I am a big fan of Black Friday. It can be a great way to save money on gifts or items for yourself. Now, that is when used under the right circumstances. We want you to be successful with Black Friday this year and not let it derail your debt payoff or other financial goals. If not done right, you will be stuck with a lot of debt and items that you never really needed. So, let review the right and wrong way to do Black Friday.
The Right And Wrong Way To Do Black Friday
It can be conflicting for me to even write this article because my number one goal for you is to avoid debt altogether these holidays and destroy what debt you do have. Getting caught up in Black Friday is an easy way to slow or derail your progress.
At the same time though, sometimes we need items and Black Friday is a good way to get them. I have made some of my favorite purchases on Black Friday. I also find it a fun experience but have to not get too caught up in things.
The RIGHT Way To Do Black Friday – 11 Tips
Here are the things to keep in mind if you want to do Black Friday right.
1. Do Your Research First
When Black Friday started most ads were physical and you would have to wait until the newspaper came to see what deals were available or catch it on a TV commercial. That, or you would have to find out once you got to the store.
Those days are gone though as you can do a ton of research the days and weeks before online.
Here are items that you can research and use to plan your day.
- Don’t start Friday morning. Research it at least a few days before.
- Look at last year’s deals. Lots of stores will repeat previous deals and go above and beyond.
- Learn the hours of the stores and when specific deals take place the morning of Black Friday
- Know how much items typically sell for
- Find store locations that are less popular but still have the same deals
- For clothes shopping, try on items before Black Friday to determine the size you need.
2. Make A Black Friday Plan
One way for you to stay on budget is to have a plan. Now that you have done some research you have an idea for what is going to be out there.
Review your money, your needs, the available deals and make a plan.
Keep this in mind. It is going to be so busy that this is not the day to do general Christmas shopping or to casually run some errands.
This is the day to buy specific items. If your item isn’t on sale, don’t buy it.
Get in and get out and you will have a much better day. If you have a plan it will be much easier to do this.
3. Target The Best Deals At The Right Time
Black Friday deals are no longer just on Black Friday. Lots of deals can be had a few weeks up to Black Friday. With that, there are specific deals that will only occur the morning of Black Friday.
These are the deals you really want to be paying attention to in order to make the most of the day.
For example, Express typically has 50% off the whole store the morning of Black Friday. At noon, it changes to 40% off. That is still nice, but get there for the 50% off portion. They have also started that deal the night before Thanksgiving in the past. So, maybe do it Wednesday night and then find another store that has that special deal only Friday morning.
No need to target other deals that have a wider timeframe when you can hit the specific and better deals.
4. Be on email lists/Social Media
Join email lists or follow the retailers you are interested in. That will most likely give you the most direct path to finding the best deals or even knowing about them at all.
They might send coupons out too that are above and beyond the deal you see advertised in the store.
These emails and posts on social media will also help you determine your Black Friday plan. Who knows, you might end up not shopping somewhere Friday morning because you know you can take advantage of a deal at another time.
5. Be On Your ‘A’ Game
When the big day comes, be on your ‘A’ game. Get plenty of sleep the night before and have those alarms set so you get can on the road and to the store.
Eat breakfast or drink coffee at home to save money and then get going.
When you get there, pay attention. Find the line to get in or head right to the item you want to get.
No need to be a jerk or push past people, just have a focus on where you are going.
Once you have what you need, you probably have a good chunk of the day left and then you can just enjoy yourself.
6. Know The Online Prices
When you get to the store you will have lots of shinny objects catching your eye. The idea is to stick to your list but whether an item is on your list or not, do know that there are other places you can find a product.
In general, items in store cost more than online. So, if an item is on sale it still may not be cheaper than if you bought it online. It is easy to get in the mind frame that you must have it now because it is on sale. That can trip you up.
So, if you find something that fits in your budget, take a moment and search for it online to see if it is the best deal.
Ideally, you’d wait a few days before making a purchase so that you can think about it, but at least take the time to check it online before buying it.
7. Shop Online
Speaking of online, you could basically do Black Friday from the comforts of your home at this point. Besides Amazon, which is only online, lots of stores, if not all, have an online shopping portal.
If you don’t want to deal with the crowds and traffic, see if you can just order it online and spend time with the family that day.
In general, browsing online the days and weeks before is a good way to do your research on the products and prices.
8. Know Yourself
This is simple. I love waking up early and getting a deal in the store after waiting months to buy an item.
Others hate the day and everything it represents. If Black Friday isn’t for you, then skip it.
In general, do what works for you. No need to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do or put yourself in a spot you might fail.
If you can’t go shopping without racking up credit card debt, then don’t go.
Trust your gut and don’t push yourself.
9. Park Away From The Crowds
Besides the lines in the store, traffic can be a nightmare in certain areas. It seems like everyone is out which means lots of bad drivers. Of course, it is always the other person who is a bad driver.
While parking closer might mean a shorter walk, parking further away might mean an easier get away. Think about how you can approach parking to give you an edge and lower your stress levels.
To me, this is part of being on your ‘A’ game. Consider your whole experience as a way to give you a leg up.
10. Use Discounted Gift Cards
Want to pay less than the advertised deal?
Use a gift card that you purchased for less than the stated value.
Use a site like Raise to buy discounted gift cards for purchases that you plan to make. Since the gift card is basically money, it can be combined with anything you purchase whereas a coupon will have restrictions on a day like Black Friday.
The best way to do this and not get burned is to find a gift card for a specific purchased you plan to make. For example, if you have a $100 purchase coming up, buy a discounted gift card for $100 or less. Don’t buy a $125 gift card and then leave $25 just sitting out there.
Get the gift card and use it so you don’t leave any money on the table but you save a few more percent.
11. There Is Always Next Year
It might seem like you must do it all on Black Friday and take advantage of every deal. The truth is, you don’t.
There will always be other deals, especially with Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day.
If you don’t have it in your budget, then get what you can and just know there will be another time when it is better to buy an item.
Don’t go into debt for an item that most likely isn’t as great as you thought it was.
If you don’t get everything you want, you probably made some smart decisions. Just find a time for when you can get it in the future and save up for it.
Don’t let it catch you by surprise though. We know it is coming each year so prepare for it and make the most of it.
The WRONG Way To Do Black Friday – 5 Tips
Now that we know what we should do, let’s look at what we shouldn’t do.
1. Don’t Get Too Wrapped Up In The Day
Black Friday is just another day. It just so happens to have a bunch of good deals but most of those deals aren’t that great.
Don’t get caught up in it so much that you don’t realize what is actually a good deal.
Even more so, don’t get so caught up in it that you justify going into debt for it.
2. Don’t Take On Debt
I’ve already mentioned this a few times, but it is important to reiterate.
Don’t go into debt this Black Friday.
It is easy to swipe that credit card multiple times without realizing exactly how much you are spending. It is also easy to underplay how much you are spending. Instead of $57 we round it down to $50 in our head or instead of $140 we pretend like it is really $100. Then when you see it later in your statement you realize you spent $197 instead of $150.
The problem is that when we aren’t honest with ourselves while shopping we still must accept reality later. Be honest with yourself upfront so that you can enjoy all your purchases later.
Consider paying with cash to stay on budget. It will make you think twice about any purchases you make.
3. Don’t Buy Something Just Because It Is On Sale
We know this inherently, but it can still get in our heads.
If you weren’t planning on buying something, you don’t save 30%, you spend 70% when you weren’t planning to do it.
Don’t get me wrong, my joy for Black Friday and deals doesn’t means you can’t buy something on sale, but it is only on sale if you were planning to buy the item.
4. Don’t Be On The News – No Trampling People!
It is OK to be on the news if you are helping an old lady across the street.
It is not OK to be on the news as part of a stampede.
Obviously, I am having a little fun with this one but with crowds it isn’t uncommon to see people get out of hand. Don’t let that be you and go out of your way to be extra nice.
Note: I wanted to post a video of crazy Black Friday moments here for a little laugh but when searching for videos I forgot how horrible the bad moments are. I simply didn’t feel it was right to post that on here with some of the more insane behavior.
Seriously people, it is disgusting behavior.
Retailers like Walmart need to step up their security and practices to ensure customers can safely shop.
5. Don’t Have A Bad Attitude
To quote Buddy the Elf, don’t be a cotton headed ninny muggins.
Thanksgiving is such a great holiday and the extended weekend that comes with it is a blast.
Keep that in mind. Don’t get mad because you are forced to wait longer in line than normal or because there is more traffic than usual. Even today I was tested in a packed parking lot just trying to get out. Just be patient.
Just because you aren’t part of a stampede don’t think you won’t affect others around you. Be a good citizen and treat others the way you want to be treated.
The Way I Do Black Friday
Typically, I do most of my clothes shopping on Black Friday at stores that have 50% off all items.
I get there right when they are open and there usually isn’t any craziness or crowd issues. Typically, I already know the sizes that work for me, so I don’t have to try the clothes on.
I also will buy larger items that I have been saving for and waiting to buy for months. Last year we bought a FitBit and Instant Pot for a good chunk less than usual. We had been thinking about those for a long time though so once the deals came we were ready to act and we really love and use those purchases frequently.
In general, I just do what works for me and nothing more. Maybe later in the day we can shop as a family just to get out of the house, but in the morning, it is all business as I go and get what I want and get out of there.
Agreed: No Trampling People!
I’ll add a tip I use. If you have to mail any gifts, and you’re standing there in the store trying to pick between two choices, choose the smaller/lighter gift because it’ll cost a lot less to mail.
That is a great tip! That reminds me how thankful I am that all the people I give gifts to live in town so I don’t have to ship!