Black Friday Budgeting to Keep From Overspending

Posted: November 26, 2013

Most likely if you are a "Black Friday" shopper, you have already been looking online for the best deals and the hours in which you need to shop.

I love to shop on Black Friday, but what I find most challenging is the temptation to purchase things that are not on my list. If you are not planning ahead to budget your spending, you may find yourself using credit cards and hoping you’ll have enough money to pay your monthly expenses come January and February. Don’t fall into this holiday financial black hole! As good as the sale may seem, it may not be worth paying late fees and interest charges during the new year. Planning ahead, sticking to a list with specified amounts to spend, and not becoming an impulsive shopper, are the keys to truly enjoying the holiday. The following are some suggestions from Practical Money Skills for Life to help you keep your holiday spending in check.

Set Your Budget.

The best way to start making a holiday budget is to look at your spending during last year’s holiday season. If some red flags just now came to mind, like credit card bills that weren’t paid until summer, regular monthly expenses that got paid late, or family conflict over how money was spent, then you need to prepare a budget now. Make a list of the holiday purchases and events planned for this season. Consider all of your major spending categories like gifts, entertaining, meals, and travel. Estimate how much you can afford to spend in each category, and write it down. Determine a specific spending limit for each item on this list. Take the list with you while shopping. Don’t be tempted by sales and emotional buying.
To keep from overspending, let your credit cards at home and only take cash. Although the person at the register may offer you a special discount if you open up a store credit card or offer to get your credit card account number, you must remain steadfast to your list and financial limits. After all, purchases on a credit card will have to be paid eventually. Are you prepared to pay the balance in full within the next 30 days? If the answer is no, then don’t make the purchase using a credit card. Your holiday shopping will need to be only fueled by cash on hand.

Get Creative with Your Gift Giving.

One great way to save money and impress friends and family is to get creative with homemade gifts. People do appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a personal gift. There are many websites where you can get creative professional gift ideas. If you have a particular skill, you may also consider creating a gift card for mowing the grass, shoveling snow, an evening of child care, grocery shopping, dinner preparation, making a specialty dessert, etc. Some people preserve jellies and jam in the summer and give an assortment of jellies along with a loaf of fresh homemade bread or muffins. Any type of food items is a great gift, but don’t need to be expensive to prepare.

Join together to Give to Others in Need.

As a family, you may want to discuss everyone donating a dollar amount to a local organization such as 4-H, a needy family, or agency that helps families who are less fortunate. Your family could start a local scholarship in a family member’s name at your local school district or university.
As you prepare for Black Friday shopping, make sure you bookmark on your smart phone or take along the sales flyer showing comparable prices at other stores. A lot of stores will honor a lower price that their competitor is offering. Have that documentation on hand and know which stores offer this service. It will save you money and time. Happy bargain hunting!