Black Friday is right around the corner, and I don’t know about you guys but I am excited for it! This will be the first year I budgeted a little bit of money away so that I could afford to do some shopping that will ultimately save me money in the long run. Does anyone else get that feeling of pure enjoyment when you are able to purchase something you needed for a much cheaper price than you normally would have to pay? It is truly such an adrenaline rush for me and I’m sure it’s the same for many of you reading this.
The problem is, it is so easy to become overwhelmed by all the tempting offers stores make available to you on Black Friday. I often find myself wanting to purchase something just because it’s on sale. Then I remember that getting that special item at that special price would still require money to leave my pocket. To me, money is a symbol of my time spent at work and away from my husband. It is, in a sense, the largest form of power we have. So instead of jumping at every tempting deal out there, I want to help you actually keep money in your pocket instead of handing it out.
In 2015, Adobe reported that consumers spent $2.74 billion dollars online while taking advantage of Black Friday advertised savings. This same report also found that $3.07 billion dollars was spent on Cyber Monday. Honestly, I couldn’t believe these numbers when I saw them. Do we truly realize how much money we are just letting go of? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to let billions of dollars leave the hands of working individuals who instead could be investing in themselves and contributing to a more financially secure economy for everyone.
That is why I wanted to write this post. By doing so I hope to help you be able to:
- Create a Game Plan
- Stick to Your Plan
- Keep Money In Your Pocket
Step 1: Do Your Best to Save and Shop throughout the Year
I love putting a little bit of money away each month knowing that I may get to splurge on something nice come Black Friday season. I also like the idea of keeping your Christmas money in a separate account. I haven’t personally done this yet, but it has been recommended to me to keep this money in a separate savings account with a higher interest rate, then only use this money for Christmas gifts. I love this idea and I plan on doing this next year!
I also recommend keeping your eye open for deals year round. I actually purchased the first Christmas gift of the season this summer at a flea market. I’m hopeful that my brother-in-law (who is 11) is going to love this gift I found. To be honest, Black Friday and Cyber Monday don’t necessarily have the lowest prices of the season at every store. I worked as a customer service representative for several clothing companies a few years ago at a call center, and I couldn’t believe how much people would spend just because it was Black Friday, even though I noticed the companies prices hadn’t changed at all from the week before!
Step 2: Set a Budget
I cannot stress enough how important it is to set a budget. Knowing how much you have to spend is very different from knowing how much you are willing to spend. It’s no secret that you can purchase practically anything with a credit card these days. So make sure you set a clear expectation of much money you have in your account before you start looking at items to purchase. Doing so, will help you avoid over spending and going into credit card debt. Now don’t get me wrong. I plan on using my credit card to purchase things this Black Friday season. But I am only going to spend the money I actually have in my account that I set aside for gifts. Then I will pay the balance on my card as soon as it has posted. This way I get to take advantage of cash rewards, so I save a little bit more money as I shop. If you do this, just make sure to only purchase what you actually have money for.
Step 3: Identify Who You Will Be Shopping For
Make a list of all the people you would like to purchase a gift for. Once you have your headcount, you can determine how much you are able and willing to spend on each person. Personally, we try to stay to around $10-$15 per person since we now have two families to purchase gifts for. I would also recommend trying to bundle up on a gift for couples. For example, last year we gave both of our parent’s one really nice canvas family photo each from our wedding, and we gave my brother and his girlfriend a food processor. This really helped save us money by not purchasing two individual gifts for those six people, and we were still able to get them gifts they loved or needed.
Step 4: Do Your Research
Now that you know how much you are able and willing to spend and what you would like to get each person, you can start researching the different retail ads. You can do this by reviewing the individual store ads online or purchasing a local newspaper. This is when you are comparing prices at different retailers, deciding which items are going to provide the most value for your money, and determining what you truly need and not just want.
You may also find these downloadable apps helpful when creating your plan of attack for Black Friday. I haven’t personally used these apps yet, but I plan on using them this year. From what I’ve been told this is how these apps would benefit you:
Black Friday App: Instead of carrying all of the store ads around with you, you can pull them up on your phone or mobile device as you shop to help you keep track of sale hours, store information, and sale prices. Having this app will also help you price match to competitor’s ads for stores who honor such a policy.
Nifti: This app tracks past sales data to determine if the Black Friday special you are after is truly a great deal, or if you would be better off waiting until a later date to purchase that particular item. Keep in mind, that some Black Friday prices are not going to be as low as the normal retail value which is why it is very important to do your research.
ShopSavvy: This is a really useful app you can use while shopping in a store because it allows you to scan the bar codes on various items and compare the prices of the same item at other stores.
Step 5: Decide What You Are Going to Buy and From What Store
Honestly, the majority of retail stores are going to have a Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale. I would strongly recommend limiting the number of stores you plan on shopping at. Prioritize stores who honor a price match guarantee so you can ensure you are getting the best deal. Pay attention to the sale hours of each store you opt to go to and create a list in which order you would like to visit each store. I would also recommend searching for coupons that could be used in conjunction with these Black Friday deals. This may help you determine which stores are worth visiting or shopping at online and which ones you can skip.
I would also recommend checking out the ads for your local drug stores. I was an extreme couponer for about a year and my best couponing days were at the local drug stores. In the past I’ve shopped at stores like Walgreens and CVS, they had amazing deals and allowed me to walk out of the store paying absolutely nothing for several items on Black Friday. It was fantastic!
Step 6: Put the Plan into Action
It is now time to shop, but with mindfulness. Stick to your plan, and only carry cash if you are worried about overspending.
Hopefully, all of your preparation is done in time to actually get some shopping done this Holiday season, and I hope my tips have helped you stay focused on your long-term financial goals and not just immediate gratification. I fully encourage shopping on these fabulous sales days, but as I mentioned before do your best to shop with mindfulness. Do your best to narrow your focus and only purchase the items you pre-identified were worthwhile. It’s good to remember that you really don’t NEED more stuff. Neither does anyone you are shopping for. Have fun while shopping, just don’t go overboard.
Share below the tips and tricks you’ve learned that have helped you keep money in your pocket during Black Friday!