- Set a budget and a schedule for Black Friday shopping.
- Create a gift list and estimate spending totals before you start shopping.
- Stick to your list and take a friend or family member who will help.
As the holiday season arrives, with it comes Black Friday deals — a delight for shoppers everywhere. It can also be a time when consumers get carried away and make the most of it, consumers might want to start now on their Black Friday budget.
In past years, Black Friday has occurred only on the day after Thanksgiving. Deals started just after midnight on Friday morning. Eager shoppers would camp in parking lots at the big-box stores and wait in long lines that often would stretch around the buildings. But things have changed since online shopping has now become a major part of our lives. Holiday deals sometimes start well before Thanksgiving — and may run days past the following Cyber Monday.
It doesn’t matter whether you stand in line in a store or use a computer from the comfort of your home, Black Friday sales offer some of the best deals available — but it’s easy to get carried away. Without sticking to a Black Friday budget, you may end up buying things that you don’t need. And even worse, you may spend money that you don’t have.
Many folks use credit responsibly to pay for their holiday expenses. If you do, it’s important to keep track of your credit score and know your debt options. Visit Best Egg Financial Health to check your credit rating. You could also use their credit simulator to compare financial options.
How to set up your budget
The best way to think about a Black Friday budget is to consider it a subsection of your greater holiday budget. One budget section could be for decorations, meals and entertaining, a second for gifts, a third for trips and travel. Breaking down the gifts section of the budget to cover just Black Friday shopping could help you decide how much to allocate for that day, or days. Of course, your overall gift budget might overlap with your Black Friday budget.
It’s important to be prepared. Don’t wait until the busiest shopping day of the year to figure out your budget. To improve your chances of saving money, start planning earlyand decide what sale items you truly need to buy. Let’s go over the action list for your Black Friday budget.
Set a spending amount
Right up front, before you do anything else, write down how much your budget will allow for all your holiday items. If you have an annual budget, use it to guide your spending for the season, including decorations, travel, meals, food, gifts. From that careful allocation, you should have a good idea of what you’re able to spend during the holiday shopping season. Naturally, your Black Friday spending will have to be within that overall holiday limit.
Build your gift list
Identify everyone on your gift list. Write the name of each person, how much you will allocate for them, and any possible gift ideas. Don’t try to save money or over-complicate things by trying to figure out exactly how much you’ll spend on whom. Just create a reasonable list of possible expenses, either on paper or in an electronic spreadsheet.
It’s okay to add yourself to this list. But make sure you also add the fixed amount that you plan to spend on yourself. Not setting a spending limit for yourself could be financially dangerous — especially once that holiday shopping rush hits.
Add it up
Total up the cost of your expected gifts, including those for yourself. If it comes in at or below your budgeted spending amount, that’s awesome. Well done. Go forward and search for the best deals you can find.
But what if your expected spending exceeds your budget? That could happen, but don’t worry. Remember, your spending should be based on what you can afford, not on what you want to spend. If it looks like you might go over your budget, there are a few options to pursue.
- Can you shift funds from other budget sections to put toward holiday spending?
- Can you save money by spending less for each person on your list, or perhaps eliminate a few gifts?
- Do you really need everything you planned to buy for yourself?
The most helpful balancing solution might be a little of each.
Take some time to reconsider those items for yourself
Are you buying things you need, or just things you want? Are you only interested in something because you might get a great deal on it? Buying a new laptop at half price on Black Friday or Cyber Monday would be awesome, but is there anything wrong with your old one? Think about it beforehand. A good deal is only good if you really need the item you’re buying.
Fantastic online sales drive impulse buys
Be prepared. Have your shopping list in hand — and stick to it. If you take advantage of a “can’t pass it up” deal, remove a similarly-priced item on your shopping list. Otherwise, you may spend even more money to purchase items than you wanted to. And remember, you will have to pay for everything when it’s all over and done. That’s why you stick to a budget.
Have trouble resisting impulse buys?
Shop with a friend — someone who’s responsible and not enabling. You want someone who’s comfortable asking “Why do you want that?” and “Did you budget for it?” Then, do the same for them as they shop. This sharing could keep everyone on track and on budget.
A shopping partner is an obvious choice to accompany you to the stores, but what about online sales? In recent years, many of us have become proficient in teleconferencing with screen sharing. Virtual partnering works the same as being there in person. Share your buying experiences with your friend while you’re both online, and help each other stay within budget.
Work up a shopping strategy
Figure out your best chances to get that good deal by looking online well in advance. Plan your shopping around those factors. Don’t want to deal with lines and crowds? Forget about the ads for in-person sales, even though they’re tempting, and focus on the online retailers. Research online sales windows (when those sales open and close). Then, make a cheat sheet to remind you of what websites to visit and when.
Don’t forget about essentials
Yes, an 85″ TV for $100 is pretty amazing. But don’t forget about the less-exciting items that many Black Friday shoppers ignore. Getting toilet paper, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, and socks at 80% off is a fantastic bargain, no matter when. Your budget should already include those expenses, anyway, so take advantage of the savings. Stock up when you can — it might allow you to put more money toward gifts.
It’s easy to get caught up in the madness, whether you’re at the store in person or shopping from home. Don’t take anything personally. Websites bog down, crash, and items may go out of stock under the massive load of shoppers. People can get ruthless over limited items in stores or get upset when they miss a sales window. Don’t sweat it.
Check other sites if one crashes — there’s always another bargain out there. Many online sites restock without notice, so always check back later. If you choose to shop in person, don’t worry about standing in line for 12 hours. Drop into the store after the early mayhem is over. Many stores offer great deals all day long with timed releases and sales. You could avoid the jostling and shoving at 2 a.m. for a cheap big-screen TV. Then, at 2 p.m., when those early shoppers are asleep, you might score a 10-speed bike for $20.
Wrap it with a bow
If you don’t already have an annual budget, why not build one now? Set up both a monthly and a holiday budget, while you have the time. Check out the great resources at Best Egg, and start creating your budget today.