The #1 Secret to Successful Black Friday Shopping

Your palms are sweating, which is a big surprise given that you’ve been standing outside for hours in 20 degree weather. You lean in with a sprinter’s stance, ready to charge the door and then the electronics department. You turn around to check on your reinforcements who each give you a thumbs up and quickly spit out code words with the plan. Donald is going for the Toshiba 50-inch, Michelle will handle the Roku, Greg’s got the Xbox covered and you’re headed straight for the iPad and then a Ninja blender. After all, you’re going to need a round of smoothies after all this work. Take a deep breath. The clock just struck midnight, but this consumerist fairy tale is only beginning.

But wait! Did you overlook the most important step? Will your plan be foiled because you forgot the number one secret to successful Black Friday shopping? Are you going to come out of Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy with twenty gifts instead of the five you planned, along with a handful of loaded up credit cards? In other words, did you forget to budget?

Don’t Forget this Secret

Before you venture out to retail stores this weekend, be sure you know what you are getting into, and be sure that you don’t get sucked in further than you can really afford. Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be great opportunities to save on gifts that you plan to purchase for friends and family. But you have to be aware that not every deal is a good one and that the goal of Black Friday advertising is actually to get you to spend more than you planned.

So your best bet will be to make a list of who you need gifts for and how much you can afford for each person. From there, cross reference their wish list with the newspaper and online ads, and see which deals apply to you. For people who don’t fit this mold, you will need to keep shopping around and comparing prices, and you might even consider some homemade gifts, too.

And don’t forget about Small Business Saturday. As we talked about last year, that’s a great way to support local businesses, and get some free money if you are an American Express cardholder.

Try Our Free Budget Planner

Last thing…Planning a holiday budget doesn’t have to be difficult or boring. In fact, we have made it really easy. Ditch the pen and paper and try out our holiday budget planner. You can make an organized list of gifts and their prices and also budget for food, parties, travel and any other holiday expenses. It might just be the best gift you can give yourself between now and the end of the holiday season.

View the Planner

Thomas Bright is a longstanding Clearpoint blogger and student loan repayment aficionado who hopes that his writing can simplify complex subjects. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him hiking, running or reading philosophy. You can follow him on Twitter.

Need to Make a Holiday Budget?

Check out this helpful tool to plan and track your spending.

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