Black Friday is almost here! Everywhere you turn, you are bombarded with another ad – on TV, on the radio, online. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hype and go overboard, spending more than you planned. To keep you on track with your holiday spending plans, we’d like to share some Black Friday secrets that stores don’t want you to know, and some tips to keep your spending in check.
Retailers create a sense of urgency advertising their “one day, rock bottom discounts” to get you to make more impulse buys. Shoppers find an item they might like to have, think, “I’ll never find it this cheap again!” and buy it, even though they had no intention of doing so when they walked into the store. Or they’ll justify additional, unplanned purchases by considering the discounts on other items. “Since I’m saving 50% on that TV, I could put the money I saved toward something else that’s a great deal.” To prevent falling into this trap, browse ads before you go shopping so you know what’s on sale. Make a list and buy only those items. Chances are, you WILL find the other items discounted again.
Stores will try to entice you to spend more with free gifts, which work the same way to them as a discount. To the store, giving away a $20 item for free is the same as a $20 discount – but to the consumer, it looks like a much better value. Sometimes, the price of the “freebie” you are enjoying is baked into the price of the item you buy. Pay attention to fine print and know what your items are really worth. Similarly, free samples (of make up, baked goods, anything) can lead you to make more impulse buys – so take the sample but stick to your list!
While items are deeply discounted on Black Friday, they’re often not the highest quality items. Stores may drastically mark down off-brand electronics because they know people will still pay top dollar for name-brands. So you end up with a lesser-quality TV, but if you have to replace it or repair it after two years, was it really worth the discount? Retailers do often discount name-brand items but these are usually doorbusters, which means they have very limited quantities – so unless you’ve been in line for hours or days, the odds of you getting that item are slim.
The same items people camped out for hours in the cold waiting for will be available online at many retailers’ websites. Why spend your time in line, miss Thanksgiving dinner, and deal with those crowds when you could just log onto the store’s website from your couch and get the same deal shipped to you? You’ll have better luck scoring big-ticket items this way. Also, remember that you will be less likely to give in to impulse buys when purchasing online than you would if you are staring them in the face at Target. Do you really need that dvd copy of “Christmas With The Kranks”?
Store offers an extra discount for signing up for their credit card? That’s great, if you can immediately pay the balance in full. If not, you could end up owing more than the discount was worth. Store cards are almost always more expensive in the long run than bank issued credit cards. That extra 10% off might not be worth it when you read the fine print.
Many non-limited quantity items will be cheaper closer to Christmas as retailers try to unload the remaining inventory. Things like clothing, handbags, and jewelry usually end up being discounted for 10-15% less than their Black Friday prices if you wait until closer to Christmas. And many items are cheaper AFTER Christmas, like home goods and cookware – so don’t fall into the trap that Black Friday will give you rock bottom prices.
The most important thing to do is to make a list and stick to it. You’ll be kicking yourself later for going over your budget, even if that $200 TV did seem like a great deal.
The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to get out, and stay out of debt.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY