And so it begins. No, not the Holiday Season; the Holiday Shopping Season. Of course, if you set our calendar by what some stores put on their shelves, it started in late September. Those who are uncannily prepared (yikes!) have already started their Holiday shopping. But Shopping Season officially starts in just a few more than twenty-four hours. Some stores are starting on Wednesday, some are pushing for a Thanksgiving Day Eve starting bell, but THE traditional day of perceived unbeatable sales, gridlock traffic, and long cashier lines is: Black Friday. Precautions should be taken to be effective and cost efficient towards your budget in regards to Black Friday.
Don’t Go Out. This is the best remedy for keeping your money in your savings account, as well as keeping your credit card balances low. Black Friday may seem like the best bargain day around, but regardless of how much you save, whatever is spent affects your spending habits and savings. If you are on a strict budget, and unless you planned to shop on this specific day, then it is best to just not go shopping on Black Friday. As I was discussing creating this article with friends, we all agreed that the best solution is to not go shopping. That being said, I realized that this solution may not appeal to the masses.
Make a List of Specific Items. Part of the problem with Black Friday is that if you just “go out shopping,” the tendency is to spend more than budgeted. Before hitting the crowded streets & overcrowded stores, review the store advertisements for specific items. If you stick to your list, you are less likely to go outside of your budget. Reviewing the advertisements and making a list of specific items will also help you map your route. Let’s face it, with the cost of gas, and the amount of traffic on the roads, mapping your route will help to save you both time and money. Having your list in hand will also help you save money when you are in the stores.
Stick to Your List of Specific Items. Here’s one area where people begin to rationalize their purchases differently. If you are in the store and they are out of the item listed in the advertisement, some stores will offer a similar, but more expensive item in its place. Because you are in the store, you will begin to rationalize the additional cost, as it will save shopping time later on. Be careful of this “bait & switch” strategy. Just think – if this happens to you four or five times in a Holiday Season, and you “rationalize” spending an extra ten or twenty dollars on the item (at the low end!), you will be spending an extra
forty to one-hundred dollars. Although this may seem insignificant compared to the time & effort it takes to shop, you may be losing out on celebratory night out or a week’s worth of groceries – depending on your household size.
It can be difficult to stay away from the lure of Black Friday. The best medicine for your budget, savings account, & credit card balances is to not go out on Black Friday. If this is too difficult or non-negotiable, then the next best idea is to make a list of specific items and stick to it. Mapping out your plan will help you stick to your budget, and sticking to your list instead of falling for the “bait & switch” strategy will help you keep your money where it belongs – in your pocket. Black Friday can be a dark day for your budget, but it doesn’t have to be.