The Friday after Thanksgiving – Black Friday – can be a good time to get deals on just about anything imaginable. Retailers view it as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, and consumers view it as a way to get steep bargains.
A few years ago, I remember hearing that some retailers like Walmart were going to discount items prior to Black Friday, and that just may be the case again this year. Perhaps this was an attempt to disperse the crowds – or maybe it was just a way to beat the competition to the punch.
If you’re not careful, you could fall victim to clever marketing and end up spending more than you should this Black Friday. Retailers are intelligent, but you can outwit them by being a smart Black Friday shopper. Here are some of the best tips I’ve come across to save money and get the best deals.
1. Use the buddy system.
Shopping with your spouse or a friend might reduce your spending. Preferably, shop with someone who you know will love you enough to tell you “you don’t need that” when appropriate. Accountability is a very strong social force that you can leverage for your good.
If you’re the type that likes shopping for the sake of shopping alone, taking a buddy along can curb those impulse purchases. You might even find yourself leaving several items on the shelf simply because you’d be embarrassed to buy this or that knickknack in front of your buddy.
2. Allocate your gift money by person.
There’s something about the Christmas season that can cause people to overspend. It used to surprise me year after year just how damaging Christmas was to my wallet. Why does Christmas tend to drain wallets? I figured it out some time later . . . .
Besides not saving up money for Christmas which comes at the same time every year, I wasn’t allocating my gift money by person. Once my wife and I sat down and wrote out a list of everyone we wanted to buy a gift for, we could easily budget appropriate amounts per person and spend accordingly. Such a simple solution, but it eluded us for years. (download our Christmas budgeting sheet)
When you do your Black Friday shopping, be sure to allocate your gift money by person. Stick to a budget, and you’ll thank yourself later.
3. Watch out for slick marketing campaigns and financing offers.
To make up for cheaper Black Friday prices, retailers launch extensive marketing campaigns to hopefully encourage more sales volume. We’re all susceptible to marketing – albeit some more than others – so make sure to be aware of marketing campaigns and your responses to these marketing campaigns. Ask yourself, “Am I buying this because I really need it, or am I buying this because of a clever marketing campaign alone?”
Especially be wary of special financing offers. If you see ads that encourage you to “buy it today, pay for it later,” remember that retailers are hoping you’ll pay for it not only later, but much later, when a hefty financing charge is slapped onto the bill.
4. Remember that “limited time” promotes impulsiveness.
People don’t like the idea that doors might be closing, opportunities might disappear, and deals are temporary. Built into Black Friday is the idea that, if you don’t buy now, you’ll might never get the same deal again.
It’s a limited time offer!
Hurry in before inventory is sold out!
Click to order now, this deal won’t last long! [Countdown timer included]
Resist the urge to buy something simply because time is running out. Instead, view these as opportunities not to buy something you don’t need, and keep money in your bank account. Be smart. Buy for the right reasons.
5. Let your vision of the future guide you.
Are you living for today, or are you living for a better tomorrow? It’s easy to live in the moment, not thinking about the future consequences of our actions.
Instead of thinking about the short-term benefits material possessions provide to you, consider the long-term benefits of saving money and building your financial future. What would your retirement look like if you invested the money you originally purposed for a new flat-screen television? How might your children be blessed by an inheritance saved up by regularly saying “no” to your excessive wants and “yes” to your needs?
In order to be a smart Black Friday shopper, it’s tremendously helpful to change the way you think about material possessions. The more content you can be with what you have, the better.
6. Use Ebates to get cash back on purchases.
Combined with Black Friday sales, Ebates.com sweetens deals by offering cash back on your purchases. Several years ago I wrote a review of Ebates because I couldn’t believe how few people were taking advantage of it.
Here’s how it works. Merchants pay Ebates to refer customers to them. Then Ebates pays a chunk of that money back to the shoppers themselves. Everybody wins.
Definitely check out Ebates.com if/when shopping on Black Friday. In fact, any time you make a purchase online it’s worth looking to see if you can save money using Ebates first.
7. Be a good example.
Your children are watching you. If you stand in line for hours with your children in the cold waiting for a store to open, what does that communicate to your kids? Are they going to place an emphasis on material possessions because you’re braving the crowds to get the latest trinket?
Remind your children, especially if you’re going Black Friday shopping with them, that it’s important to have the proper perspective on stuff. Stuff is only stuff. It’s not what’s important in life. Give your children proper perspective and make Black Friday shopping a learning opportunity. A few lessons kids can learn include:
- If I don’t get the deal I want, that’s okay – the sky isn’t going to fall.
- If I don’t have enough money in my budget for what I want, that’s okay – I’ll save up money to make purchases later.
- Frugality is a good thing, but I’m not going to trample others to get the latest deal – people are much more valuable than the latest gadgets.
Black Friday can be a great time to get some deals. When you go shopping, make sure to shop smart. Think before you even leave your house or get online to get a deal. Be intentional with your shopping, not reactionary, impulsive, or compulsive. Have fun, be safe, and be thoughtful while grabbing some smart deals.
Do you like shopping on Black Friday? Have any more tips you’d like to add? Leave a comment!