We’re quickly heading into November, which means the approach of the holiday season. There are already Christmas decorations up in the stores! And soon, we will begin to see ads for Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year!
On Black Friday, it seems like every store is having a crazy sale. Items are allegedly at a significant markdown. It’s a great time to shop if you want to get a bargain, right?
Well, maybe. But you have to plan ahead. Make your Black Friday Plan now!
Think about when you shop online or in the store. How often are items listed at “list” price and at “sale” price? Maybe an item is listed at $100 “list” price but a particular store offers it for sale for $79.99. On Black Friday, they mark it down to $75, 25% off of the list price. That’s a huge bargain! You should buy immediately! But wait, a week ago, it was $79.99, which is still 20% off the list price. Now, if this is something you’ve been planning to buy, something you really want or need, then yes, the additional 5% off is totally worth it. But if it’s something you’ve just been thinking about buying, don’t buy it just because it’s on such a huge sale – because that sale isn’t that big. And wait, those are just the prices at Store A. What if Store B always offers it at $75?
How are you supposed to know all of these things? You plan ahead. Are there big ticket items that you’re hoping to get on Black Friday? Things that you want, but only if they’re at a certain discount? Start shopping for them now. Check prices online. Find out what they’re going for now. That way, you will know if that bargain is really a bargain.
For example, there is a specific triathlon watch I’ve had my eye on for a while. It retails for $650. Right now, I have been watching the Amazon prices. It’s currently at $605. This is the best price I’ve found online. But that’s still more than I want to spend. However, I know that this brand often goes on sale around Black Friday, so I will be checking the price. If it drops down to $599.99, that really isn’t that great of a deal, and I won’t buy it. However, if it’s down to $550, that is a significant sale, and worth adjusting my budget to make it work.
And this isn’t just about big things. This also applies to little things. I know a lot of people who like to go to Target on Black Friday to pick up small things like books and movies. Take a stroll through the book and movie aisles and take note of the general prices of the items. That will give you a better idea of how good the sale prices really are.
Don’t let brightly colored ads proclaiming huge sales convince you to spend your hard earned money. Do your research, make a price list, and shop smart. Sales are designed to be tempting. Don’t let their tactics win. Show up with your Black Friday Plan and know that you’re getting the best bargain for your money.
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.