Black Friday is not a ‘regular’ thing for many countries, but, weird enough, some have ‘imported’ it, too. Even here in Romania some big stores have this event and more start adopting it as years go by.
For many people this is the right moment to get some good deals, while for others Black Friday just means buying all kinds of stuff just because it’s discounted, so a huge blow in their family budget and a clear setback in saving money or paying off debt.
Since there is not much time until the big event, I have started thinking about how to minimize the ‘losses’ and still get the most of the Black Friday sales. Please feel free to chime in and add your own advice/ideas.
1. Just ignore the event
I know I started a bit too ‘strong’, but, if you don’t really need anything really badly, why not just mind your own business? We’re probably gonna go this route, since we had already spent serious money in preparing for our child to be born and have most of the stuff already at home or on its way to us. We also want to save more aggressively for the birth and the ‘aftermath’ (having a small baby won’t be too cheap anyway), not to mention that we don’t really feel like we NEED to purchase anything. Sure, we could change our laptops or gadgets, maybe get a new stove, but these are not needed right now. So, discounted or not, having to pay for them would mean we’re ‘losing’ money. The best way to save our money, will be to just let the event pass.
2. Make a CLEAR LIST of what’s needed
OK, so you’re not gonna sit around and not take advantage of the Black Friday sales. If you have taken a cold hard look at your life / possessions / family and noticed there are things you need now, then looking for discounts will be a great idea to purchase the much needed items and save some money in the process. What you need to do now is to write your list. Buying yet another digital camera or 4 more USB drives might seem like a good idea (they’re cheaper, right?), but do focus on those items you really have to buy now. Just the fact an useless item (to your right now) is discounted, still means you’ll lose money by buying it.
3. And now our beloved budget
Just like in everything you do, the budget is the key to really control your spending and also being accountable for everything that costs you money. Why would the Black Friday shopping be any different? Create a budget for this and make sure you’re abiding by it (why have a budget if you ignore it?). Based on your items list and needs, think about how much money you’re comfortable to spend and go prepared. Ideally this time of the year should not put a damper to your debt payment / savings, so don’t feel obligated to ‘go big’ just because all the others are doing it.
4. SAVE money for this event
It’s not like Black Friday happens at different times each year, so you can’t be prepared. Just like when it comes to saving money for the Christmas shopping, this is an event you know about months ahead, so you can plan accordingly. Don’t expect a the tooth fairy or any other ‘entity’ like this to fill your wallet with money for the shopping, save money ahead of time, so that your budget is relying on money you already own, not on future debt. It’s not that difficult to save a little each month and this will allow you to still get the items you had in mind, while not breaking the bank.
5. Pay cash or use your credit card WITH CARE
The main idea is to try not get into (more) debt these days. Know exactly how much money you have in your bank account and don’t go overboard. Carry cash, if it’s easier for you to curb your expenses, do anything that works for you so that you’re not leaving the store with junk you haven’t planned / budgeted for and in debt. This is where saving money in advance, carefully planning your list of items and budgeting come into place. An unprepared customer is a sure ‘victim’, don’t be one.
6. Make it a rule: don’t go into debt!
Unless the items on your list are vital (new clothing or a TV set are not something your life depends on), there’s absolutely no reason for you to get into debt over them. If you’re already debt free, I assume you don’t wish to get back into the ‘red’, if you are paying off various loans, new debt wouldn’t make your life easier. Even if you’re paying with a credit card (to reap all kinds of rewards), don’t spend more than you have with the promise ‘I’ll pay in few weeks’. Many families are deep in credit card debt because that ‘few weeks’ never happened. So play it safe.
7. Study the prices days/weeks ahead
Now that you know exactly what you wish to buy, start studying the prices for the items, so that you can make the BEST choice when it comes to buying it. Here in Romania some big stores use a pretty sneaky strategy to fool people into thinking the items are on sale: they increase the prices few weeks before and then, when the Black Friday event starts, they drop the prices to the old values (or a little discount compared to how it normally costs). Don’t know if the US stores are doing this, but, whatever the case, knowing well ahead how much the items cost and how much of a REAL discount you’re getting, can help you make an informed decision.
8. Be calm when making the purchases and take your time
Don’t go nuts over the items and don’t lose your cool. If you’re nervous or excited you’ll probably make mistakes. You are now on a ‘mission’ and should also enjoy the event. Don’t let stress come between you and a nice shopping experience.
9. Don’t feel you need to keep up with the Joneses
I know there is a HUGE marketing ‘offensive’ on all media outlets about the Black Friday sales. You’re getting bombarded with potential deals, you’re told how cool this entire thing is and how amazing your holidays will be just because you’ll go and spend money left and right. Not to mention your friends and family are probably all getting ready for the big deals and would probably be shocked to find out you’re not losing your breath over this.
Just as I mentioned before, we’re gonna probably stay away from the entire event, unless we really come close to a great deal for something we’ll need for the baby. Sure, it’s not quite a popular stance, now that even in this part of the world the ‘cool’ people are getting ready to buy stuff. We’ll probably have some people roll their eyes if they find out we’re ‘missing’ on this amazing event. What matters at the end of the day is how YOU feel about it and your own financial security. We never bothered with what others have to say and in most cases we did well.
So … What other ways do you know to save money on this upcoming Black Friday? Will you buy a lot of stuff?