A Guide to Black Friday Shopping

Shopping Savings
on October 11, 2012

Shopping on Black Friday is a holiday tradition for many. Stores open early and offer some of the best deals of the season on this day. However, surviving Black Friday and still saving money requires some advanced knowledge and prior planning. Follow these rules and you should come out okay.

1. Budget Ahead of Time

Part of the fun of Black Friday is going to the mall and seeing what’s on sale that you never thought you could afford. However, this can lead to spree shopping that definitely does not help you with saving money. To avoid this, make a budget ahead of time and stick to it. Include some wiggle room for impulse purchases if you need to but don’t go over the budget.

2. Prioritize Gift Items

If you plan to shop for holiday gifts during Black Friday and you have specific items in mind, prioritize these and plan to buy them first. Things sell out quickly on Black Friday and you wouldn’t want to not be able to buy something for a loved one. Even if you are planning to simply purchase gifts as they catch your eye, make sure that you prioritize them over impulse purchases. Running out of money before buying a crucial present is no fun.

3. Leave the Kids (and their strollers) at Home

Shopping can be a fun pastime for older kids and their parents. However, you can always take the kids on Saturday when things are a little less crazy, or even in the afternoon. Leave the kids behind when you go shopping in the morning on Black Friday, and definitely leave the strollers. Mobbed shopping malls are no place for big, unwieldy strollers or even the smaller, folding kind.

4. Avoid Store Credit Cards

Store credit cards can give you an edge if you use them cautiously. However, most people do not wind up saving money with a store card. The interest rates on these cards are extremely high and most of them carry a balance. If you choose to open a store credit card, make sure that you charge no more than you can pay in full before the end of the month.

5. Beware of Shifting Policies

Even if you think you know a store well, read the fine print before buying. Some stores make changes to their policies just for Black Friday and these changes can catch you unawares if you aren’t careful. Return policies and layaway programs are the most prone to being changed for Black Friday.

6. Use your Debit Card, Checks or Cash

Charging things to a credit card can lead to making purchases that you can’t afford to pay off right away and letting your credit card carry a balance can cost you a lot in interest. Using a debit card, checks or cash keeps your spending to what you can actually afford. If you know you are prone to impulse purchases, leave your cards at home altogether and only take as much cash as you are willing to spend.

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