But before you put on your shopping shoes at dawn on Friday, here are a few shopping tips.
You know how stores advertise that they have a certain fabulous item marked down to an insanely low price for Black Friday only? Well what they don’t tell you is that they don’t have a lot of that item. Some stores may advertise a ridiculously cheap television and actually only have one in the store. The goal for the store is to get you in the door. You want to get that tv, and you’ll be disappointed when you don’t, but hey, since you’re at the store, you might as well see what else is out there.
Stores do have to have a least one of their doorbuster items in stock, however, so if you like camping out for sales, and can be first in line (and are a fast runner and can get to the item first and ward off anyone who tries to steal it for you), go for it.
Stores like to advertise just how much an item is marked down. “Now available at 25% off list price!” But what they aren’t telling you is that on a normal day, they sell it at 20% below list price. So yes, it’s on sale from the regular price, but you aren’t actually getting that great of a deal. And sometimes the price would be better on a regular day at another store. So if you’re headed out on Black Friday with some specific items on your shopping list, do some research now. Find out what other stores have the price listed at now.
Watch Your Budget
In the excitement of Black Friday shopping, it’s so very easy to blow your budget. Don’t let yourself get enticed into spending more money than you planned. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good deal – a good deal doesn’t matter if you’re putting yourself into debt. I recommend keeping a running list on your phone of what you have left to spend and use the calculator to keep yourself in check. And when you’ve hit your limit, stop. Don’t keep shopping. Don’t browse just to see what’s out there. Stop and go home.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where you have to be careful. With so many people out shopping on Black Friday, thefts are bound to happen. Make sure you aren’t setting your purse in a cart as you shop (you should never do this, regardless of time of year. Don’t leave your car unlocked while you go to return your cart. Be aware of your surroundings and if you feel uncomfortable at any point, leave.
Don’t Forget Small Business Saturday
After Black Friday, we have Small Business Saturday. This is a day designed to promote all the awesome small businesses out there. But don’t just patronize them on Saturday. Sure, you can go to a big box store and pick up some awesome gifts, but there are some awesome small businesses out there with some great products to sell. Maybe your town has a local bookstore or bakeshop. If not, there are plenty of shops with online stores. If nothing else, check out Etsy for some pretty cool gifts.
Above all, enjoy your holiday shopping, whether you spend Black Friday hunting down deals in the stores or online, or you avoid shopping all together and spend the day doing something fun. The holiday season is underway and we should all try to enjoy it as much as we can.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.