Black Friday and the holiday season in general can stretch people’s bank accounts pretty thin. In fact, CNBC MakeIt says that nearly 60 percent of people report spending too much during the lead up to the holidays. This year, when you’re armed with a plan, you can avoid overspending and make sure that you get great gifts for everyone on your list — not just deals on items that you’ve been waiting for.
Start by planning out who you need to get gifts for, if the two of you have set a spending limit and how much you can spend on them. From there, budget for any items you’ve been eyeing up — it’s also a good idea to keep an extra $100 on hand in case you fall for something shiny. That way, you’ll have a mini “emergency” fund ready if you’re at the mall and have already spent your gift budget. Rod Griffin, director of consumer education and advocacy at Experian, tells the outlet, “You have to make a list and you have to check it twice — Santa’s advice is always good.”
Be wary of "sales"
On top of having a list, head to the ATM for your budgeting needs and use cash, Chime suggests. Now that you’ve set numbers for what you want to spend on each person on your list, take out those amounts in cash and place them in individual envelopes for each person. Then, add yourself to the pile and place whatever amount you have allotted into your own envelope. If you’re buying online, head straight to the item you want and avoid looking at other products that you may be tempted to add to your cart.
Now that you’ve planned ahead and set out various amounts for yourself and the people on your list, prepare yourself for the various “deals” that you’ll see. NerdWallet explains that stores often inflate the discount rates they claim to give their customers. For instance, if you’ve been waiting to buy yourself new headphones until Black Friday deals are live, you actually may be purchasing them for the same price as any other time — only this time, you’re adding onto holiday spending for others.
Avoid "Spend More, Save More" deals
Nerdwallet also recommends avoiding getting hung up on percentage discounts; instead look at the sale price and what the item is going for at other retailers. When you see something shiny for yourself and the big “Sale” sticker catches your eye, remember that you might not be getting a discount after all. Planning ahead, checking out what the discounts are and doing your research on the products you want to buy for yourself can save your wallet some serious strain.
Finally, be skeptical about deals that boast extra savings or free shipping when you spend more. “Unless the free shipping minimum is near your total and the extra you add to your cart is equivalent to what the shipping fee will be, it’s better to stick with the lower purchase total and just pay for shipping,” consumer savings expert, Andrea Woroch, tells MakeIt.
While Black Friday may seem like the best time to buy your latest obsession, the retailer might be benefiting more than you. Set aside your budget for each person on your list ahead of time and have your “emergency” stash ready to go if you spot a good deal. You’ll be grateful for your preparation in January!
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