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How to shop responsibly this Black Friday

Get the best out of the Black.

20 November 2018
3 minute read

happy woman with shopping bags

Black Friday brings with it the promise of good deals and great savings, just when you need them most – at the end of the year, before the holiday season and just in time for Christmas, if you celebrate it. But without careful planning, Black Friday can get the better of you, and you can end up coming into December with stuff you don’t need, debt to pay back, and no extra money to enjoy over the holidays. 

So, to get the best out of Black Friday - which this year falls on 23 November - follow these five planning tips:

1. Make a wish list of what you needWrite down a list of the things you are likely to buy in the coming months. If you were going to buy your child a Nintendo Switch for Christmas or buy yourself a new laptop, this is the perfect time to hunt down savings. The same applies to groceries or food – write down the things that you are likely to need. Even if you only have a rough idea, write down: “a couple of new outfits for work” or “bulk canned foods or dry goods”.

If you can, separate this list into “needs” and “wants” – as in you “need” to buy your child a Christmas present, but you also “want” to spoil yourself a little. Or you can simply shuffle the items so that they are listed in order of priority.

2. Calculate how much you can spendNow you need to know how much you can afford to spend on specific items. Remember, a saving is only a saving if you were going to spend the money anyway, so set yourself up for realistic targets that take your true financial situation into account.

Before you work out how much money you can allocate to Black Friday, make sure you’ve got your December expenses covered. Have you budgeted for things like petrol costs and staff bonuses? Don’t let your Black Friday spending eat up your holiday spending money.

3. Do careful price researchWhile you can’t put a price to every possible item – especially if you are using the Black Friday specials to stock up on food – you can research the big-ticket items like technology or sporting gear. Compare the prices at as many stores or online retailers as you can to get a sense of how much you would normally spend on each item. This information is crucial when shopping for specials, because in the mayhem of the day you’ll be able to know exactly how much you are really saving.

4. Go in carefullyIt’s easy to lose your head in the heat of the moment. If you’ve dutifully done the hard work of steps 1, 2 and 3, don’t throw it all away by buying everything you can lay your hands on (or click your mouse on) when the big day actually arrives. Stick to your wish list in order of priority and when you reach your budgeted total, STOP SHOPPING. Don’t be fooled by specials that aren’t, well, all that special. If you fear you don’t have enough self-control, take a responsible friend or family member with you to help keep you in check.

5. Whatever you do, don’t go into debtDecember is the most expensive month of the year, and January is usually the leanest. Don’t set yourself up for an indebted 2019 by overspending in November. Even if something you want is cheap, if you don’t have the money for it, don’t buy it. The interest you’ll end up spending paying back your debts will outweigh any Black Friday specials, guaranteed.

Don’t have a blue Black FridayThere you have it: five easy steps to save yourself some money while staying within budget on one of the most dangerous days of the year – from a personal finance perspective. Good luck, happy spending and, more importantly, happy saving.

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