8 Ways to Avoid Breaking Your Budget on Black Friday

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*Disclosure: I only recommend products I use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission that helps me keep providing free content to you all 🙂

When I was growing up Black Friday was a HOLIDAY, I remember waking up at 4 AM just to

be first in line at Target and even one year we accidentally got a free TV (more on that later)

Although Black Friday will look a little different this year, it is so important to shop strategically to avoid completely blowing your budget.

Here are some of my favorite tips that I use to help avoid getting carried away with Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales:

1. Make A List (and stick to it)!

Don’t be like Phoebe! Make a plan by figuring out what you really need and want to avoid getting tempted by the sales.

I like to think about it by breaking up my holiday shopping list into a few categories depending what I am looking for. Are you looking to revamp your makeup collection? Get your squad gifts they won’t forget? Are you trying to refresh your wardrobe? I will usually break up my budget into each category and allot myself a certain spending amount for each type so I can hold myself accountable. Once I know what I want to buy, I usually research a bunch of different stores to see what all of the sales all are and comparison shop for the best deal for me.

By having a realistic plan, this will help you curb impulse purchases, and hopefully stay at a reasonable budget. If you can avoid Black Friday altogether that’s great, but personally there are tons of purchases that need to be made around the holidays, so you might as well get the best deal you can.

2. Unsubscribe from Emails

As we get closer and closer to the holidays, companies will boost their promotional email more and more often. They will continue to try to tempt you with additional sales and discount codes, making it difficult to stick to your strict shopping list for the holidays.

Attempting to ignore these emails can be difficult—even I struggle with passing up a good deal sometimes. So, instead of putting yourself in that position hit *unsubscribe* (and you know maybe just subscribe here instead)

Tip: If you use gmail, the majority of promotional emails should get filtered out in separate folder, so I just avoid opening the promo folder altogether

3. Set Spending Limits

Once you set your shopping list, make sure you give yourself spending limits as well.

Retailers spend the majority of their marketing spend leading up to the big day so it leave a lot of room for temptation and overspending. Marketers play on our emotions to get you to spend more, so by having a plan in place it helps you avoid it.

When creating spending limits, be as specific as you can. For example, if you set a clear spending limit like $500 for family gifts and $500 personal ($100 makeup, $100 clothing, $100 shoes, $200 technology), when you see a crazy deal you will be less likely to impulsely snag that $100 t-shirt from Anthropologie (don’t do it). Make yourself a deal that you will stick to these numbers, no matter how close you are to breaking it.

4. Track Your Spending

As you make purchases on Black Friday, write it down so you can track each purchase and the amount. If you decide to use credit cards (personally I do for the extra rewards and shopping online), it can be difficult to track how much you are really spending. Writing it doing and visualizing it helps me hold myself accountable.

Check out apps like personalcapital.com or mint.com to help you track your credit card spending or you know can always keep in it simple in a spreadsheet or pen and paper

5. RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH

After I make my list and check it twice (thanks Santa lol), I research the best places to get those items to make sure I am getting the best deal.

To help me understand if I am getting the best deals, I usually peruse blackfriday.com and the ShopSavvy app to help with comparing prices across all different stores.

Read the fine print of the sales to know what you are actually getting. You may think you are getting an iPhone with all of the accessories, just to find out it doesn’t include any and it wasn’t even that great of a deal after all.

6. Combine Rakuten Cash Back with Credit Card Rewards

If you are going to be spending it, you might as well get the most rewards out of your buck. Rakuten is a free cash back app, that gives you a rebate up to 20% at places you are already shopping. I like to combine this with my credit card rewards for the most cash back. My CapitalOne Venture Card gets me 2x miles on all purchases, and when combined with Rakuten’s cash back you can get up to 22% off when done strategically.

Sign up for Rakuten here: https://www.rakuten.com/r/JXA293?eeid=28187

My Favorite Rewards Credit Card (get 100,000 bonus points ~$1,000 value): https://rb.gy/8aeabc

7. Avoid Spending for Saving (hint: if you had to spend $50 to get $10 off, you didn’t save $10)

When offering discounts, companies use psychological tactics to get customers to spend more money. Offering a discount for spending a certain amount triggers people psychologically, making them think they are actually saving money, just because they are getting a deal even though they are still spending money.

Don’t get duped into the cycle of adding an extra $15 to your cart to save $5 on shipping fees. Rather than looking for sites with shipping promos, try a site that offers free shipping at a lower threshold or opt for store pickup. Free shipping for spending $100 (or any amount) is simply a marketing tactic to make you think you are getting a good deal and spend more.

8. Avoid Being Tricked Into Buying Lower Quality Product

You know that $100 TV on advertised all over Walmart, Target, and Best Buy? A lot of companies will purposely create lower quality products to sell at a discount on Black Friday, so you may not really be getting that good of a deal. Make sure you don’t get sucked into the marketing and read the fine print. Make sure you know what you are getting before you buy it.

Heres how it works: Large retailers, like Target and Walmart, will make bids far in advance purchase these products earlier in the year. These companies often opt to use cheaper production to increase their profits and reduce overhead. So many of those doorbuster TVs, Computers, and Printer will most likely have more issue compared to those purchased at a different point in the year

Stay strong and good luck this Black Friday and holiday shopping szn, you got this!

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Jess | Millennial Money Expert

I saved $100K at 25 and I help millennials and gen z-ers get excited about financial literacy and build wealth.