My-oh-my, it's almost Black Friday!
While 101.7 million people are braving the crowds, I'm hiding out on my couch with a bag of popcorn and a movie lineup on Netflix.
According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers spent an estimated $655.8 billion last year.
It makes me wonder, how much of that $655.8 billion was spent on things the shopper actually planned for, and how much of it was due to impulse wants or tricky marketing techniques?
Like most people, I have succumbed to the occasional spontaneous purchase. On previous Black Friday's this includes a new mountain bike, a Fossil watch, and the same shirt in six different colors.
With holiday sales, the FOMO (fear of missing out) is real. You know that nagging feeling you get when you fear regretting a decision in the future? It's the fear of thinking you won't find a better deal, so you snatch up discounted goods. I am guilty of this fear.
Amazon One-Click, online flash deals, buy-one-get-one, doorbusters, and strategically placed items are all ways retailers are tapping into the world of impulse buying.
Don't be fooled by their tactics. Here are some things you can do to keep more money in your wallet this holiday season.
LEAVE YOUR CREDIT CARDS AT HOME
When it comes to impulse buys, spending more than you have is a real reality.
For example, let's say you walk into a department store on Black Friday morning and are greeted by a table filled with deeply discounted Christmas decor. You know you have everything at home to decorate your house for Christmas, but the items are such a good price, you make up this story in your head that you can use them for next year. The problem is, you already spent all of your cash at the last store you visited. To pay for your purchase, you put it on credit thinking you won't find a better deal, and you convince yourself that you will pay it off with your next paycheck.
Raise your hand if you have found yourself in this situation. That's me. I am here raising my hand.
There have been plenty of times where I have made up an excuse to justify my impulse purchase, and I paid for it with money I didn't have.
One way to not spend more than you have is to pay entirely with cash and cash only. Take away all other options for payment, and force yourself to stick to your budget. Once your cash is gone, no more spending.
Having only cash to spend makes you rethink your spending impulses. You can see right away how much you have to spend. The cash is in your hands. This makes you think about your purchases instead of mindlessly swiping a credit card.
So if you are braving the crowds on Black Friday, leave your credit cards at home.
UNSUBSCRIBE FROM DAILY DEAL NEWSLETTERS
Can you believe I used to get at least 50 emails a day from my favorite stores?
I would be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy getting Magnolia Market's email filled with home inspiration and featured deals, but I had to cut the cord.
There is no better time than now to start unsubscribing from these types of emails. They are a minefield of danger for impulse buyers and are riddled with strategic marketing to get you to buy things you don't really need.
One of the department store emails I used to subscribe to was Gap. I loved getting their “50% off clearance and additional 20% off your purchase” sale emails. With such good savings, it literally tricked me into thinking I was saving money.
In reality, it was putting me in the red every month because I was buying things I didn't plan for.
If you are a Gmail user, I learned an awesome trick from abcnews.com. When you are at checkout in a store, and they ask for your email, avoid getting on any more subscription lists by giving them your email as firstname.lastname@example.org.
The email still goes to your inbox, but it allows you to set up a filter to automatically archive anything sent to email@example.com. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Stop the temptation in its tracks, and start unsubscribing now. It usually takes a couple of weeks for you to stop receiving them.
FOLLOW A TIME RULE
During Black Friday, it's hard to stick to the 30-day rule. The 30-day rule is a simple method to control impulse purchases. Whenever you feel the urge to splurge, force yourself to stop and wait 30 days before buying it. Go home, write down what you wanted, hang it on the fridge, and think about it. If, at the end of the month, the urge is still there, then consider buying it.
For Black Friday, you don't have 30 days to think about it. Instead, wait 10 minutes and ask yourself these questions:
- Do I need it or am I just buying it because of the sale price? – Remember, a bargain is not a bargain if the item is never going to be used.
- Can you afford it? – If you don't have the cash to pay for it, leave it behind. Trust me, if you really want the item, you'll be happy to wait for it.
- Do I already have something that is similar or can do the same job? – You don't need another black sweater if you already have three in your closet. Trust me on this!
Figuring out if it's a want or need is the most critical step.
For most of my more significant purchases, I will wait 30 days before actually buying it. With smaller items, I evaluate whether or not I actually need the item I'm considering and, when I'm done being completely honest with myself, I recognize that a lot of what I'm spending my hard earned money on is a want, and it's usually a short-term instant gratification one at that.
CREATE A LIST AND STICK TO IT
You'll be happier if you buy what you need rather than purchases made up of things you only kinda-sorta like.
Having a list on Black Friday is having a plan. Sticking to that plan ensures that you are not buying things merely because they are on sale. Remember, if you consider purchasing an item just because of the sale price, you will always save more money by not buying it all.
Creating a list and sticking to it allows you to buy with confidence. It gets rid of buyer's remorse and enables you to shop with a mission. Your mission – get things on your list and go home.
The first step is getting organized. Make a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for. Once your list is finished, write down a rough gift idea or category for each person.
The second step is to look at your current finances. How much can you really afford? This is where a budget comes in handy. Figure out your monthly income and subtract your monthly expenses. Whatever is left over is your disposable income that you can put towards holiday shopping. Make things even easier next year by creating a Christmas fund. Start saving a little bit every month to shop for the upcoming holiday season.
The third step is setting a dollar amount for each person on your list. Look at how much disposable income you have leftover from step two, and set a dollar limit you are willing to spend on each of the people on your list.
The fourth step is looking through the Black Friday ads early and finding the specific gifts you want to buy. This is the step where your list is generated. Since you already have rough gift ideas from step one, it makes it easier to locate specific sales. Write down the item name, the cost, and the store you will buy it from. Don't forget to write down when the gift is on sale. Some sales on Black Friday are only good until a certain time. Some of the best deals are found on the days before Black Friday, so make sure you know when you need to buy the gift to get the best deal.
Now you have a list you can stick to. Remember, you also have the option to buy online. It's the best way to limit distractions.
Are you planning on shopping on Black Friday? If so, how do you plan on sticking to your holiday budget? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!