Don’t Let Black Friday Blot Your Finances

a set of letters hanging that spell the word sale

Let’s face it: many people in America are thankful at Thanksgiving because the next day is Black Friday.  The deals, the sales, the dollars saved… it’s a shopper’s dream!  The long lines can be worth the work when you save 50% on a flat screen for your spouse’s Christmas gift.  But that competitive crowd and bombardment of discounts can actually tempt you to spend more than you should.

Here are some tips to get you through Black Friday, so you can be thankful that you had a plan, saved money and got what you needed:

  1. Make a list and check your budget:  List the holiday items you need and see how much you have in your holiday budget for getting those things.  Make a separate list for other items (like birthday gifts or clothes) and check your budget for those items too.  Keeping these lists separate is key, so you aren’t tempted to use some of your home repair money to buy your second cousin’s Christmas gift.  When winter rain starts leaking through your roof, you’ll be glad you didn’t spend the money elsewhere.
  2. Plan ahead:  Research store websites and advertisements for Black Friday sales ahead of time so you know which stores’ sales are best for getting the items you need.  Plus, you won’t waste gas driving all over town looking for the specific items on your list.
  3. Stick to the list!  When you see things that aren’t on the list and factored into your budget, you will inevitably spend more than you should.  Stick to the list!  When you take a look at your holiday bills in a month, you’ll be happy that you did.
  4. When you absolutely can’t live without it.  You’re shopping Black Friday with your friend.  You’ve stuck to your list so far (good job!), but then you see a sweater that you cannot live without.  Instead of going over budget, see if your friend—or whoever decided to brave the crowds with you—can get the sweater as your Christmas or birthday gift (if he or she hasn’t bought your gift already).  That way both of you stick to the list and your budgets.

If shopping on Black Friday doesn’t seem like a worthwhile event, but you still want to save money, consider talking to your friends and family about options besides gift giving.  For example, you could get together and see a play or do a day trip.  These kind of events and plans can help you stretch/defer gift-giving, so all the money doesn’t have to be spent at Christmas.

If you don’t have a budget in place, talk to your Money Coach at 1-888-724-2326 to get helpful tools and resources for holiday spending.