Did you go out to shop on Black Friday last year? Or did you stay home and take advantage of the online sales from Thursday through Cyber Monday?
And, did you stick to your budget?
Financial advisers recommend reviewing past performance regularly in order to ensure that you are going to stay on track. So if last year, you budgeted $1000 and spent $1500, but then you spent $750 less the rest of the month, perhaps you should update the budget to $1300 or $1400 for your Black Friday/Cyber Monday and then look at reducing the other areas where you spent less last year.
If you know that you’re hosting the big Christmas Day party and you’ll be spending more on food, liquor, decoration and napkins, then figure out your budget for that, and look at reducing spending for gifts. (You really don’t want to sit in your house with the heat off and the lights out to try to save on your electricity to make up for overspending.)
Once you have your budget, it’s time to do your research. There are many sites (see Resources below) that leak black Friday ads early. You can figure out what you want to buy, and who has the best price.
Additionally, look carefully at the fine print. You may be able to purchase the item online instead of having to go onsite. Verify if there are limited quantities. If not, you may be able to get a rain-check.
Map your strategy out carefully. Also, compare that to your values. You may be able to get a $97 television if you shop on Thursday, but you’re giving up spending Thanksgiving with your family.
The National Retail Federation offers these tips:
- Read store ads carefully. Is the store offering sale items at a limited quantity? Can you get a rain check if it’s an out-of-stock sale item?
- Use the Internet to compare prices, not just the Black Friday ads but also retailers’ regular websites.
- Take the ad with you when you go shopping to make sure you find the precise item at the price advertised. It’s often a good idea to go to the store now to see if the items you want have the quality and features you desire.
- Check to see if your favorite retailer offers an option to buy online and pick up in store. That will allow you to skip the frenzy and head to the customer service counter.
- Focus on bottom-line prices, not discounts. Discount claims may not reflect real savings if the seller inflated the original price of an item.
- Know retailers’ return and exchange policies. Some have a specified number of days in which to return items. Others will give the recipient credit for their after-holiday clearance price without a gift receipt, and some won’t let you return an item bought online to a physical store.
Spend time looking online this weekend. Last year, there were some better bargains on the Sunday before Black Friday.
Many National Parks are free and some State Parks will be free to enter on Black Friday as a way of enticing people to get outside and have fun away from shopping. What will you be doing?