October is here and, as pumpkins and skeletons invade the shops, it is undeniable that the Holiday Season has arrived! Amid the rustle of fall leaves, you can also hear the collective tightening of purse strings across the country. There are tons of reasons to spend money this season: decorations, Fall foods, gifts. Among all these Holiday temptations and obligations, nestled between Thanksgiving and Christmas, is perhaps one of the largest temptations to spend money: Black Friday.
While Black Friday is marketed as a day of unparalleled savings and deals, it is perhaps a spookier day of the year than Halloween for your wallet. But fear not! In the past, we’ve given you tips to get through the fallout of the Holiday Season – Today, we’ve got 4 tidbits of advice to help you get through your Black Friday shopping without making your credit score cry and sending you out to get an installment loan.
Don't walk in and let the big "SALE" signs dictate what you buy. The best thing to do before a Black Friday shopping binge is to create a plan. The first step in that is creating a shopping list: Pick the things you need— Is your TV giving you issues? Is your laptop on its last leg? What do you need? What will you have to invest in soon anyway? Let these kinds of probing questions guide what you put on your list. Doing this thinking before you’re standing in the store, staring at the myriad of shiny options just at your fingertips, will keep you from walking away with half the store and more than you needed.
Now that you’ve made your list, it's time to do some research. A lot of big sales promotions (Presidents Day, Black Friday) rely on a lack of research and knowledge of normal prices. Just because something says “Sale” doesn’t mean you are actually saving much. Often times, things are barely marked down. Look at what is on your list a month or two before Black Friday and do some searches. What is it normally sold for? Check online and in-store. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to judge whether a “sale” will actually result in savings for you or if you would be risking the great crowds of Black Friday for no benefit.
So you have your game plan and you are armed with research, what could possibly trip you up now? This is no time to be relaxing; stores are designed to try to trick you into buying more than you need. The more time you spend in the store, the more likely you will be to spend. Stores put the electronics and the especially juicy sales way in the back so you have to walk throughout the whole store. They hope that as you make a beeline for the laptops, you’ll see a nice pair of jeans or a new Xbox controller. They want you to see all the sales and be tempted to buy more. The longer you spend in the store, the greater the chances are. This is where your game plan needs to be tight – Get in, stick to the list, and get out before you do something you regret.
Perhaps, like many of us, a sale tempts you more than your game plan or willpower will carry you. This is where the last tip could be your savior: Leave your credit cards at home and bring only the cash you will need for the purchases you are planning to make. This tip will not only help you stick to a budget but also help you avoid putting any more charges on your credit card than necessary.
So, with all this, you should be prepared to face the coliseum of Black Friday as a financial gladiator: armed with a game plan, research, and a steely resolve, you’ll walk away from the day with your head held high and your pocketbook and credit none the worse for wear.