It shouldn’t be. Don’t let one day undo all the financial good you’ve accomplished this year. Not that it doesn’t make sense to capitalize on bargains. Just make sure you plan carefully before you hit the stores Friday morning (or, for some of us, Thursday night).
Ways to control your Black Friday spending
It’s easy to spend too much when you’re out among the crowds of excited consumers. The excitement can be contagious, but you have to be very purposeful.
Set a budget
Well before you do anything else, decide how much money you can afford to spend this year – then set a budget for each family member and friend you plan to include on your Christmas list. Set limits for how much each person will receive, and don’t forget to include stocking stuffers in your calculations.
Make a list
Now, decide what you want to buy for everyone. Here’s the Stein way: Everyone in the house makes a wish list on the computer, complete with photos and links to the products they want. This has the side benefit of making everyone look at prices – which helps temper expectations.
Once you have everyone’s list, transfer the items to a spreadsheet so you can monitor what you’ve bought and how much you’ve spent for everyone.
Do the due diligence
Go through the Black Friday flyers and find the items that correspond to what you have on your spread sheet. My kids rarely include clothing on their lists, so watch out for sales on items you know they need but didn’t necessarily ask for, such as jeans and sweaters.
Plan your attack
Now you know which stores you need to visit and what you need to buy in each. If there’s an electronic or other item that you expect to be scarce, make that purchase first. Plan the rest of your route so that you’re not crisscrossing the city but moving in an orderly fashion from store to store.
Don’t forget to eat and drink
You want to get done and get back home, where you can start decorating, have a turkey sandwich, and maybe enjoy a glass of wine. But don’t let yourself get too hungry or dehydrated during the day. It’s terrible for you, and you may lose focus.
Stick to the plan
This is not the day to improvise from the plan. Stick to your list – there’s still nearly a month before the big day. Remember, stores lure you in with the loss leaders they advertise, but they make their money on the other things you buy once you’re inside. Don’t go crazy with the credit cards; the bills will come due – and you’ll be saddled with pretty high interest rates, too.
It’s going to be crowded. There are going to be lines. The traffic will be terrible. Accept it going in, and remember it’s all for the greater good. Saving money on some key purchases can help you stretch your Christmas budget a little further for each person on your list.
Find things that will make you smile – the clerk going the extra mile for a customer; the couple shopping for baby’s first Christmas; the lost husbands trying to navigate the purses and shoes they’ve been told to get.
You can survive Black Friday with your sanity – and your bank account – intact. All it takes is a little planning and a lot of patience.