Black Friday and Cyber Monday—the two days when the shopping gods unleash a frenzy upon humanity. It’s like a battle royale, where shoppers armed with credit cards and determination fight tooth and nail for the best deals.
It’s so easy to get carried away and overspend, especially when bombarded with irresistible discounts and limited-time offers. Who can resist the allure of this shiny gadget or that must-have fashion item? But beware, for amidst the excitement lies the danger of emptying your bank account faster than Santa downs milk and cookies.
That’s why we’re here to help. Here are the quintessential Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping tips you need to know to ensure you use your credit wisely without turning into a penny-pinching Scrooge.
The ‘Add to Cart’ reflex
The “Add to Cart” reflex is a common impulse many people experience during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy. With so many tempting deals and limited-time offers, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and add every item that catches your eye to your virtual shopping cart. However, this impulsive behavior can quickly lead to overspending and post-purchase regret.
To curb the over-enthusiastic clicking, follow these steps:
1. Make a list: Before you start browsing deals, list the items you need or already have been planning to buy. This will help you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by shiny objects that aren’t in your budget. Speaking of budgets.
2. Set a budget: Determine how much you can afford to spend and stick to it! It’s easy to get carried away with all the discounts, but having a budget will help you make more conscious decisions about what to add to your cart.
3. Prioritize your purchases: If you come across multiple items you want but can’t afford to buy them all, prioritize them based on their importance or value. This way, you can make sure you’re getting the most essential items first.
4. Take a breather: When you feel the urge to add an item to your cart impulsively, take a moment to pause and ask yourself if you really need it or if it’s just a fleeting desire. Giving yourself a moment to think before clicking “Add to Cart” can help you make more rational decisions.
5. Compare prices: Just because an item is on sale doesn’t mean it’s the best deal out there. Before purchasing, compare prices across different retailers to ensure you get the best possible price. There are also browser extensions, and websites that can help you quickly compare prices and find the best deals.
6. Use wishlists or save for later options: If you come across an item you’re unsure about or don’t want to buy immediately, use the “save for later” or wishlist feature on the retailer’s website. This allows you to keep track of items you’re interested in without impulsively adding them to your cart.
The ‘FOMO’ Dilemma”
The fear of missing out, AKA “FOMO,” is the anxiety or unease you might feel around possibly missing out on a great opportunity or experience. FOMO can lead to reckless spending because it creates a sense of urgency and pressure to make immediate purchases. When faced with limited-time offers or exclusive deals, you may feel compelled to buy without thoroughly evaluating whether you need or can afford it. The fear that you might regret not taking advantage of the opportunity can override rational decision-making.
Retailers often use tactics like countdown timers, limited stock claims, or flash sales to amplify the FOMO effect. This sense of scarcity and urgency can make you feel you’ve got to act quickly or risk missing out on a great deal. As a result, you may make impulsive purchases without considering the long-term consequences on your finances.
Social media can also play a significant role in fueling FOMO during shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Seeing others sharing their purchases and talking about the fantastic deals they scored can create a sense of envy and the fear of being left out. This social pressure further reinforces impulsive buying behavior.
To avoid falling into the FOMO trap and engaging in reckless spending, it’s important to remind yourself of your budget and priorities. Take a step back, evaluate whether the deal aligns with your needs and financial situation, and resist the urge to make hasty decisions. Remember that there will always be other sales and opportunities to find good deals throughout the year.
The ‘But It’s a Steal!’ fallacy
Ever buy something just because it’s on sale? You’re not alone.
The “But It’s a Steal!” fallacy is a common mindset many people fall into during shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s the belief that you’re saving money by purchasing items on sale, even if you’re spending more than you initially planned or buying things you don’t need.
While discounts and deals can save you money on certain purchases, evaluating whether the savings are worth it in the long run is essential.
Here’s how to understand the difference between real vs. perceived savings:
1. Evaluate the actual cost: When you see an item on sale, consider its original price and compare it to the discounted price. Sometimes, retailers may inflate the original price to make the discount seem more significant. Take the time to research and determine the item’s true value before deciding if it’s a good deal.
2. Consider the value to you: Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for you. If you don’t need the item or it doesn’t align with your priorities, even a significant discount may not be worth the purchase. Focus on buying things you genuinely need or have been planning to buy rather than being swayed by the allure of a sale.
3. Factor in additional costs: Sometimes, the perceived savings from a discounted item can be offset by other costs. For example, if buying a heavily discounted electronic device requires upgrading your accessories or paying for additional services, the overall cost may not be as cheap as it seems. Consider the complete picture before making a purchasing decision.
4. Avoid impulse buys: Impulsive purchases are often driven by the perception of a good deal. Retailers use limited-time offers and flash sales to create a sense of urgency and push consumers into hasty decisions. Take a step back, give yourself time to think, and evaluate whether the item is worth it before purchasing.
5. Think long-term: True savings come from making smart, thoughtful purchases that align with your needs and budget. Consider the long-term value and usefulness of the item rather than just focusing on the immediate discount. Saving money is not just about the initial price tag; it’s also about the value you get from the item over time.
Make a shopping list
Planning your purchases and creating a shopping list can be a powerful way to prevent impulse buying and ensure that you make thoughtful and intentional purchases. Here are a few reasons why making a shopping list can be beneficial:
1. It sets a clear intention: By creating a shopping list, you are setting a clear intention for what you need to buy. This helps you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by enticing deals or unnecessary items and prevents you from making impulsive purchases.
2. It prioritizes your needs: A shopping list allows you to prioritize your needs and separate them from your wants. It helps you identify the essential items you need to purchase and eliminates the temptation to buy unnecessary things. This way, you can allocate your budget wisely and spend on items that truly matter to you.
3. It helps you stick to your budget: A shopping list helps you stay within your budget. It allows you to assign a specific amount of money to each item on your list, preventing you from overspending or going over your financial limits. It keeps you accountable and ensures that you make purchases that align with your financial goals.
4. It helps you avoid distractions: When you have a shopping list, you are less likely to get distracted by flashy promotions or impulse buys. It serves as a guide and keeps you focused on what you need, preventing you from being swayed by the fear of missing out or the excitement of a great deal.
5. It saves time and energy: A shopping list saves you time and energy by streamlining your shopping experience. Instead of aimlessly wandering around stores or browsing online, you can go directly to the items on your list, make your purchases efficiently, and move on.
Set a budget and stick to it
While it’s not easy to do, setting (and sticking to) a budget is crucial because it helps you understand the reasons for setting spending limits and teaches good financial management.
Here are a few reasons why it’s important to set a budget and stick to it:
1. Financial control: By setting spending limits, you gain control over your finances. It allows you to allocate your money wisely and ensures you have enough for your essential needs, building an emergency fund, and reaching your financial goals. Without a budget, you may overspend and find yourself in a difficult financial situation.
2. Prioritization: A budget helps you prioritize your spending. You can allocate funds to the things that matter most to you, such as saving for a vacation, paying off debt, or investing for the future. It helps you make intentional choices and avoid wasting money on unnecessary expenses.
3. Debt management: Setting a budget allows you to manage your debt effectively. You can allocate a portion of your income towards debt repayment, ensuring that you’re making progress toward becoming debt-free. Without a budget, it’s easy to overspend and accumulate more debt, making it harder to achieve financial freedom.
Tips for creating a budget that works
1. Track your expenses: Start by tracking your expenses for a month or two. This will give you a clear picture of where your money is going and help you identify areas where you can cut back or make adjustments.
2. Define your financial goals: Determine what you want to achieve financially, whether it’s saving for a down payment on a house, paying off debt, or building an emergency fund. Your goals will guide your budgeting decisions and help you stay motivated.
3. Categorize your expenses: Divide your expenses into categories such as housing, transportation, groceries, entertainment, etc. This will make it easier to see where your money is going and identify areas where you can reduce spending.
4. Set realistic limits: Be realistic about your income and expenses when setting spending limits. It’s essential to create a budget that is sustainable and achievable. Start by prioritizing your basic needs and then allocate funds to other categories based on your financial goals and priorities.
5. Review and adjust regularly: Review your budget regularly to ensure it aligns with your financial goals and needs. Life circumstances and priorities can change, and your budget should, too. Most financial experts recommend adjusting your budget quarterly, but it’s more about being intentional about knowing how money flows in and out of your life and changing your budget to fit that flow.
Prioritize your needs over wants
It’s important to distinguish between essential purchases and nice-to-haves to prioritize your needs over wants. Here’s why:
1. Financial stability: Prioritizing needs over wants helps maintain financial stability. Focusing on essential purchases ensures that your basic needs are met before indulging in non-essential items. This approach prevents overspending and enables you to stay within your budget.
2. Avoiding debt: By focusing on needs first, you reduce the risk of accumulating unnecessary debt. When you prioritize essential purchases, you allocate your funds toward items necessary for your well-being and financial security. This helps you avoid impulsive purchases that can lead to debt.
3. Meeting obligations: Prioritizing needs ensures you meet your financial obligations. Whether it’s paying bills, rent, or loan repayments, focusing on essential purchases helps you allocate your funds toward fulfilling these responsibilities. This way, you can avoid late fees, penalties, or other financial consequences.
4. Building savings: Prioritizing needs over wants allows you to allocate funds towards savings. By saving for emergencies, future goals, or retirement, you build a financial safety net and work towards long-term financial security.
Use price tracking tools
Tracking prices over time can be a helpful strategy for making informed purchasing decisions and saving money. By monitoring prices, you can identify trends, find the best deals, and avoid overpaying. Here are some specific tools and websites that can assist you in tracking prices:
Camelcamelcamel tracks the price history of products on Amazon. You can set price alerts to be notified when a specific item drops to your desired price. Camelcamelcamel also provides price tracking charts and historical data to help you make buying decisions.
Honey is a browser extension that automatically applies coupon codes at checkout to save money. It also has a feature called Droplist, which allows you to add items to your watchlist and receive notifications when the prices drop.
PriceGrabber is a comparison shopping website that compares prices from different retailers. You can search for a specific product and see a list of prices from various sellers. PriceGrabber also provides price alerts so you can be notified when the cost of any particular item goes down.
Slickdeals is a community-driven platform where users share deals, discounts, and coupons. You can browse through the latest deals or search for a specific product. Slickdeals also has a price tracker feature that allows you to monitor the price of an item and receive alerts when it drops.
ShopSavvy is a mobile app that lets you scan barcodes or search for products to compare prices from various retailers. You can see price history charts, set price alerts, and even purchase directly through the app.
Remember to compare prices across different platforms and retailers to ensure you get the best deal!
Unsubscribe from tempting emails
Marketing emails have a sneaky way of using psychological tricks that push us toward impulsive buying that can quickly lead us to overspend way beyond what we can realistically afford.
Need some tips on managing your inbox and avoiding falling into the trap of impulsive buying? Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails: Take the time to go through your inbox and unsubscribe from marketing emails that you no longer like reading. This will reduce the number of temptations and distractions in your inbox.
2. Create a separate email address: Consider creating a different email address specifically for promotional emails. This way, you can keep your primary inbox clutter-free and only check the promotional email address when you are actively seeking deals or discounts.
3. Set email filters and folders: Use email filters and folders to organize and prioritize your incoming emails automatically. You can create filters to send marketing emails directly to a separate folder so they don’t clutter your main inbox. This way, you can review these emails when you have the time and mental space to make informed purchasing decisions.
4. Practice mindful browsing: Be aware of your browsing habits and exercise self-control in online shopping. Avoid mindlessly clicking on links or adding items to your cart without considering if you truly need or want them. Take a moment to pause, reflect, and evaluate your purchases before deciding.
Opt for cash back and rewards
Cashback offers can be a great way to save money on the things you were already planning to buy. Cashback offers allow you to earn a percentage of your purchase price back as “cash,” which is sometimes doled out as rewards and other times as cold, hard cash deposited into your checking account. This means you can get additional savings on top of any discounts or promotions already available.
One of the best benefits of using cashback rewards programs is that they’re usually straightforward. You simply need to sign up on a website and shop through their links, and the cashback will be automatically credited to your account.
But don’t forget there are also cashback rewards offered by some credit cards that’ll refund a percentage of your purchase, as long as it’s in a qualifying category. Cashback credit cards are great because they let you “double dip” by combining them with cashback sites and apps.
Here’s how you can leverage cashback offers effectively:
1. Research!: Take the time to research different cashback programs and compare their offers. Look for programs that offer competitive cashback rates, have a wide range of participating retailers, and have positive reviews from users.
2. Combine with discounts and promotions: Maximize your savings by combining cashback offers with discounts, promotions, and coupons. This way, you can get the best deal possible and earn cashback on top of it.
3. Be mindful of minimum payout thresholds: Some cashback programs may have minimum payout thresholds, meaning you need to accumulate a certain amount of cashback before withdrawing it. Be aware of these thresholds and plan your purchases accordingly.
4. Use cashback credit cards: Consider using a credit card that offers cashback rewards on your purchases. This way, you can earn both the cashback from the credit card and the cashback from the cashback program, doubling your savings.
5. Stay organized: Keep track of your cashback earnings and make sure to request withdrawals once you reach the payout threshold. Set reminders or use cashback tracking tools to stay organized and ensure you don’t miss out on your earned cashback.
As we navigate the exhilarating whirlwind of Black Friday sales, let’s not forget that the thrill of a great deal doesn’t have to come at the expense of our wallets. Yes, the temptations are real, and the pressure is on, but with a dash of mindfulness, we can snag those bargains without falling into the overspending pit. So, here’s to enjoying the sales, making savvy choices, and reveling in the satisfaction of a deal well-earned. Remember, your wallet deserves a breather too! Happy shopping, savvy spenders!