The most stressful yet indulgent time of the year is almost here. Black Friday is approaching, and you’ve probably been bombarded with sales notifications already.
U.S. shoppers are expected to spend around $9.8 billion this year during holiday shopping. But is your wallet prepared?
Whether you’re excited, nervous, anxious, or a combination of all three, it’s essential to be prepared for Black Friday by devising a spending plan. Failing to do so could cause you to spend more than you wanted and with purchases you don’t need.
Why You Need A Plan For Black Friday
Most people know which stores they want to shop at on Black Friday. Knowing where you want to shop is only half the battle. Knowing what you want to buy and what price point will help you be less tempted by those big, bold 40% off signs.
Financial experts advise consumers to fall prey to store promotions. According to money and lifestyle expert Ashley Lapato of The Organized Wallet “ Many promotions are designed to get us to impulsively spend more during the holiday season, but those “little” purchases add up quickly, shares Lapato. “Instead, take a moment to decide what you are willing to spend less on. This will help you determine if that extra money is truly worth it or if you are simply caught up in a false sense of urgency.”
Remember, just because an item says it’s 50% off doesn’t mean you need to buy it. By selectively choosing which items you will buy, you can save money and avoid unnecessary purchases.
If you want to maximize your Black Friday shopping and make smart money moves, follow these steps.
1. Preselect items on your wishlist
The ultimate tip for saving money on Black Friday is to know what you want to buy beforehand. When you’re inside a store or behind your computer looking at dozens of items on sale, you probably want to throw everything in your cart. But do you need a unicorn-shaped float for the pool you don’t have? Probably not. Perhaps you need a new coffee maker or a blender. Black Friday is a great time to buy practical items that you’ll use daily.
“Before you head to the store or start placing online orders, make a list of gifts you need and keep it in your phone notes or something more festive like the Santa’s Bag app,” Lapato recommends. “Keeping your holiday priorities at your fingertips will encourage you to make better decisions in the face of deals and discounts.”
2. Stick to a budget
Budgets aren’t as shiny as a new flat-screen TV, but they can be your ultimate secret weapon against wasting money. Look at your current expenses to see how much extra you can spend on Black Friday deals. If you don’t have extra money, try seeing which expenses you can cut back on to give you more money for shopping. For instance, you can bring your lunch to work instead of eating out and put that money towards Black Friday.
A budget will help you set spending limits when the Black Friday deals may trick you into thinking you’re saving money. “Do your future self a favor and set a spending limit with the cash you have available,” Lampato encourages. “ This will remind you how far your hard-earned dollars need to stretch when you’re feeling impulsive. If your gift list exceeds your spending limit, consider a gift card to contribute towards those pricier presents without breaking the bank.”
3. Compare prices and sales
Another way to stay in control of your spending is to do price checks before purchasing. Since you already know what you want to buy, you can use websites such as Shopzilla, Become, and Camelcamelcamel to check the price history of your items before Black Friday. You may notice that prices may drop and then go back up. To ensure you get the best deal, stay vigilant.
Many companies offer coupons and discount codes to their email subscribers. If you don’t want to overload your email, you can set up a separate email address to collect online coupons. Either way, subscribing to the email list of your favorite retailers is an excellent way to be in the know on in-store and online Black Friday discounts and sales.
Lastly, you can participate in price matching or price adjusting. First, check with the retailer or store to ask if they do price matching. If so, they will match a competitor’s lower price for an item they’re selling at a high cost. With price adjusting, the retailer will pay you the difference between the price of their item and the price of the competitor’s item.
4. Use a cash-back credit card
Yes, it is possible to earn money by spending money. With cash-back credit cards, you can earn between 1-6% cash back on all or select purchases. It’s important to do your research and find the best credit card for your financial situation and needs. NerdWallet has a list of cash-back cards you can compare.
As a reminder, last year, U.S. shoppers had more than $1,000 in credit card debt. Although you are earning money back, a credit card is another way of borrowing money, which means you have to pay off the balance each month to avoid extra charges and debts.
Black Friday Scams To Look Out For
Now that you know how to be money-savvy for Black Friday, here’s how to ensure you aren’t taken advantage of during your quest for top-quality, low-cost essentials.
Online retailer scams. Buying from companies you know and trust is the most straightforward way to ensure your financial safety. If a company’s website doesn’t have adequate security features or if you receive sales emails from an unfamiliar address, don’t buy from them.
Email phishing scams. These scams occur when a scammer sends you an error message. You might receive an email saying there’s a problem with your account or a billing issue and ask you to send your bank information. If you see those emails, delete them without clicking on or replying to anything. Contact your bank by telephone to see if there is a problem.
Post office package scams. If you receive a message from the post office, be weary. Fraudulent companies will impersonate the post office and say you must pay a fee to pick up your package. In reality, scammers are trying to get your bank information. This scam is easy to fall into, especially if you’re ordering items online. Instead, if you think a package might have gotten lost or misplaced, contact the post office directly and keep tracking numbers handy.
Remember these tips and tricks to help your money go further this Black Friday.