Black Friday is the busiest shopping day in the United States. As Black Friday has evolved throughout the years, and with the addition of Cyber Monday, the actual day has become less of a focus. Many stores have deals throughout the whole month and extended weekend. While many decry the demise of Black Friday, especially since Amazon’s big Prime Day has better deals on Amazon-branded items, there are still a lot of great deals to be had.
Reducing prices on new and exciting toys and gadgets are how many Americans are able to afford gifts for each other before the Holiday Season. Many people rely on Black Friday sales to be able to get their kids and loved ones the things they want. Black Friday 2020, especially, is going to be a really helpful for the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs or are underemployed.
I remember my parents buying the newspaper before Black Friday and waking up at 5 am to be able to get us toys and other things we needed. One year my sister and I got a Razor Scooter (remember when those were a new thing!?) thanks to a 5 am Walmart trip. They probably would not have been able to afford it had it not been for that sale. They were all the rage back then and “everyone” had one! We were so thrilled and could barely wait for Hanukkah when it was gifted to us.Black Friday can be a day to get some good stuff that you need but it can also be a day where you blow all your money on impulse shopping.
If you are spending money that you don’t have than you CANNOT AFFORD IT. This is true for credit cards as well. If there is no money in the bank to pay it off immediately than you are not able to afford it. Even if you are getting cashback, points or rewards. You have to evaluate every “deal” by recognizing that you are borrowing money for it. Are you willing to borrow money for this “amazing deal”? Chances are NO.
If you budgeted and planned for the shopping that you are doing on Black Friday than you are good to go! For many people, like myself, this is a chance to get things that we really need at a price that we can afford. If you celebrate X-mas or Hanukkah by giving gifts than this really can be an amazing opportunity to get the people you love things that they want.
This can also be a time to stock up on things that you may need, like clothing, winter gear or baby stuff. BUT its not worth it to buy things you MAY need if you have to borrow money on the credit card to do so. Don’t forget that stores have put lots and lots of effort into making you think you need something you don’t and into thinking you can afford things that you really can’t afford. They want you to believe that the deals are amazing- but remember: a deal is only a deal if you can afford it!
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How do you make the best of Black Friday?
I asked some personal finance bloggers for their best Black Friday Hacks and Cyber Monday deals to help you get the best bang for your buck (and time!) without getting too caught up in the temptations that surround the biggest shopping day of the year.
Because, as great as the deals are, a deal is not a deal if you can’t afford it. Stores know exactly how to bombard with you with advertising and marketing that ensure that you spend the most money at their stores. Sometimes they do such a good job that they even pass off not such great deals as great sales and door busters. BUT: They don’t have your best interest in mind and they aren’t the ones paying the credit card bills months after Black Friday is over. They aren’t the ones paying interest on purchases that already in the trash or chasing after rebate money that you were counting on to pay for those pricey electronics.
So the best advice for Black Friday shopping is: Shop Smart.
And without further ado, here are seven tips that will get you the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday:
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1. Do your research
Brian from Debt Discipline suggests: The best tip I can offer for Black Friday, and it may be an obvious one, is to have a plan for what you are shopping for. Use the power of the internet to research any item on your list ahead of Black Friday and make sure you are getting the best deal. Just because it’s a Black Friday deal, doesn’t mean it’s the best prices, do your homework!
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2. Know what you want before deal surfing
JoeHx from JoeHx Blog says: Plan what you want to get BEFORE seeing the “deals.” Make sure what you’re buying actually is a deal and isn’t simply discounted after raising the price the week before. Finally, don’t buy anything just because it’s on “sale.”
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Mr. SR From Semi-Retire Plan suggests: Especially when shopping Black Friday at a brick and mortar retail store, the big ticket items often quickly sell out. Check the sales at your local retailers online before the sale begins. Then plan strategically so you can be at the front of the line for the item that will offer you the biggest savings — like you would “bee line” to the most popular roller coaster at an amusement park right when the park opens.
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4. Let others do the legwork for you
Jarek from Time in The Market says: Check out websites such as slickdeals.net. There are people on there doing most of the legwork for you and posting the best deals. Even reddit has useful subreddits such as r/frugalmalefashion or r/frugalfemalefashion that will help you spot deals with almost no work.
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5. Avoid impulse purchases
Kevin from Just Start Investing says: Have a plan! There are deals everywhere on Black Friday, obviously, but just because something is on a crazy good deal doesn’t mean you should buy it. Scope out what you need ahead of time and find the best deals for it, and avoid making any impulse purchases that you’ll regret a few weeks later!
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6. Don’t just focus on deals
MC at Keeping Up With The Bulls: Don’t use Black Friday and that something is “such a great deal” to justify spending. Instead, be very pragmatic about your purchases. What are things you buy regularly that you may be able to get a deal on during Black Friday or Cyber Monday? What gifts will you be buying for the holidays, what is the normal price of these items and is there a better price during Black Friday or Cyber Monday? There are lots of deals during the holiday shopping season, if you’re not deliberate with your purchases it’s easy to spend way more than you planned and regret spending so much!
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7. Don’t procrastinate!
Enoch from Savvy New Canadians suggests: Your Black Friday preparations should begin several weeks before. Start with making a list of the things you need to buy and do your research by clarifying the technical specifications for electronics, identify the models you prefer, compare prices, warranties, return policies and determine how much you plan to spend on shopping.
Make a note of the time your preferred stores go live with deals online and also the in-store shopping hours on Black Friday. Be ready to jump online before the start time in order to avoid delays at the checkout and products getting sold out.
I recommend buying big-ticket items first, especially when the discounts are deep. Keep an eye on your spending and don’t break your budget by purchasing what is not on your list. If you use a credit card, plan to pay off your balance quickly, so you don’t carry over debt into the new year.
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8. Keep every single receipt, and other helpful advice
Don’t forget to KEEP ALL RECEIPTS from your shopping expeditions so that you can return items if you do have buyer’s regret. I wouldn’t recommend counting on rebates. They often have difficult and complicated rules that are designed to have a high rejection rate. If you are planning on applying for one- keep all the paperwork and receipts in a specific place so there is less of a chance of you misplacing it.
Can you afford it? That is the FIRST question you should be asking when evaluating Black Friday Deals. A deal is only a deal if you can afford it… Keep on repeating that to yourself as all the Black Friday deals start popping up on your feed and you pass all those enticing ads.
Especially if you are going to do some shopping, you need to make sure you can resist the urge of all those Black Friday deals. Not everything is a good deal and not everything can you afford. Here are some tips to help you curb your Black Friday spending and not blow your budget. You don’t want to be a gift to the credit card companies this Black Friday weekend.
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5 tips to curb Black Friday spending
- Make a list of what you need and stick to the list. Spending $16.97 on Rubbermaid Storage Containers is great if you need storage containers, but if you never use storage containers then it’s just $17 in the garbage even though it’s technically a good deal.
- Decide how much you want to spend and don’t spend more! The same advice that always applies is even more applicable for Black Friday. Make a budget and stick to it! There is great pride to be had in not going over your spending limit.
- Allot some money for splurging. How much will you spend on impulse shopping and on fun things you see and don’t really need. It’s ok to splurge if you have the cash to back it up.
- Don’t count on rebates. Rebates can bring your purchase price down by a lot but don’t buy something unless you can afford to cover the entire amount. Rebates have a nasty habit of being lost, forgotten, rejected or take an endless amount of time to arrive. So if you won’t be able to afford to pay for the whole things- don’t buy it. Of course, use every available rebate site! I personally love Rakuten/Ebates.
- DON’T FEEL PRESSURE. With all the advertising and marketing dollars spent over the next few days it’s hard not to get caught up in the pressure of needing to buy stuff. It can get to the point where you feel as if you “missed out” by not getting any “good deals” and being left out of all the action BUT there is nothing to gain by shopping for the sake of shopping. Don’t wake up tomorrow feeling like you spent all your money on things you don’t need and won’t use. Many of these items will probably go on sale again at one point and if you are frugal and stick to your budget then you can pay full price for these items at a later point.
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