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Budgeting

Black Friday Shopping Tips

When it comes to Black Friday shoppers, most people fall into one of two camps . . .

First, there’s the group who love the thrill of looking for a good deal—they can’t wait to be one of the few who actually get that $500 personal espresso machine for just $150. These shoppers mean business and don’t mind standing outside in the cold at 4 a.m.

Then there are those who scroll deals on their phones in the warmth and quiet of their own homes, maybe clicking “Add to Cart” here and there.

No matter where you land, you can totally make Black Friday work for you and your budget. With these Black Friday shopping tips, you can enjoy the thrill of the deal without getting caught up in the frenzy—or accidental mindless spending.

8 Black Friday Shopping Tips

1. Make a shopping budget.

If you plan on shopping this Black Friday, then you absolutely have to budget before you hit the first store—online or in person. A budget is a plan for your money. And stepping into one of the biggest sale days of the year without a spending plan is a recipe for disaster.

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The moment you read the last word of this article, start planning! You’ll need to set up a monthly budget first. Once you get your income and regular expenses accounted for in there, you can see how much you’ve got available to spend on Black Friday.

And be firm with yourself. Once you reach that planned dollar mark, you’re done.

Pro tip: Check out the free EveryDollar Christmas Present Planner to get all your gift-giving organized this year!

2. Do your research.

Once you’ve set how much you’ll spend, it’s time to do some research. Thinking ahead will help you prioritize your spending.

Now, don’t spend your entire Thanksgiving Day searching the newspapers or store sites for $5 off an Easy-Bake Oven. That’s valuable family time! But do make sure you have a sense of where the best deals are so you can hit fewer stops—and avoid overspending.

3. Use your loyalty programs.

Some loyalty programs offer exclusive Black Friday and holiday deals! Let’s say you’ve got the Target RedCard (it’s a debit card, and I love it!), plus you’re a member of their Circle Rewards program. That means you’ll get early access to deals, special coupons based on your shopping habits, free shipping, and 5% off your order! Target Circle alone is a bit lackluster, but combined with the RedCard? You can get some serious savings—all year long!

Another awesome example is when Kroger offers extra fuel points for purchasing gift cards around the holidays. You can nab a present for your kid’s teacher and extra cents off at the pump for yourself!

Important callout here: Just make sure the loyalty program is not connected to credit cards. (More on that in tip #6.)

4. Shop online.

Black Friday doesn’t mean you have to fight crowds for incredible deals—now there are online sales too. And some even start weeks before you start prepping the cranberry sauce and stuffing the turkey!

There’s also Cyber Monday to think about when you’re budgeting. You can find a lot of prices on things without camping out in a parking lot all night or getting run over by a crazy parent looking for a half-priced action figure.

If you’re over the crowds and the madness of this weekend, then online shopping might be a good option.

5. Relax.

Seriously, just relax. Remember, this is just stuff. Ask yourself this question: Two years from now, will I even remember what I’m buying? Better yet, will the person you’re buying this item for still be using it?

Keep a healthy perspective and mindset. If you don’t get that computer, television or game console, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t get so caught up in shopping and finding a deal that you lose sight of why you’re shopping and giving gifts in the first place.

6. Don’t spend money you don’t have.

This might seem like common sense, but a lot of people just don’t get it. You can’t afford an item if your only option is to put it on a credit card. What might seem like a good idea in December becomes an awful idea in January when all the bills start rolling in. Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford!

And listen: You’re probably going to hear this in the checkout line: “Want to save an extra 15% by signing up for our store credit card?” Just say no! I know it sounds tempting to save even more money, but store credit cards are a bad idea. Any time of year.

7. Venture out later in the day.

All the heavily promoted items might be gone, but you can still find great deals while avoiding the wild crowds that pile in early in the morning. Hey, it can get seriously crazy when the doors open at some of the larger retail chains. If you do choose to go first thing in the morning, wear a helmet.

8. Budget for personal spending.

Black Friday shopping isn’t just about saving money on Christmas gifts. If you want to catch some deals on tech items, clothing or other stuff as a treat to yourself, that’s fine—if it’s in the budget!

Do You Really Save Money on Black Friday?

You can save money with these Black Friday tips, but here’s the bottom line: You’ve got to make a plan and stick to it. That means making a monthly budget, a Christmas budget, and a spending plan for all those Black Friday deals. If you want to make the budgeting part way easier, download the free EveryDollar app.

And remember that Black Friday is (mostly) a holiday marketing trick to get you to spend money. Walk into the sales with your eyes open and your budget ready. That’s how you get the sales to work for you instead of the other way around.

Rachel Cruze

About the author

Rachel Cruze

Rachel Cruze is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, financial expert, and host of The Rachel Cruze Show. Rachel writes and speaks on personal finances, budgeting, investing and money trends. As a co-host of The Ramsey Show, America’s second-largest talk radio show, Rachel reaches 18 million weekly listeners with her personal finance advice. She has appeared on Good Morning America and Fox News and has been featured in publications such as Time, Real Simple and Women’s Health magazines. Through her shows, books, syndicated columns and speaking events, Rachel shares fun, practical ways to take control of your money and create a life you love. Learn More.

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