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How to shop Black Friday sales without overspending

In a bid to keep Canadians shopping at home, retailers here have embraced the American Black Friday tradition. The long celebrated day after American Thanksgiving is where bargain hunters look for deep discounts on everything from electronics to clothing and shoes. But before you get out and start taking advantage, there are tips to keep in mind to make sure you don’t overspend.

It’s not a deal unless you need it

No matter how attractive the sale might be, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Look around your house today and count all the things you bought on sale that are not being used. Now add up how much you paid for each item. That will help put into perspective how much money that was wasted on things you bought simply because the price looked good.

You’re not saving, you’re spending

If you buy a pair of jeans that are usually $100 and are now 60 per cent off, you are not saving $60 — you are spending $40. Say that to yourself every time you pick up something to buy. Retailers convince shoppers that Black Friday is a day to save money, but it’s actually the ultimate spending day. In 2013, Americans spent US $57 billion on Black Friday sales.

Carry cash

This may be one day to keep your credit card at home, especially if you have a tendency to overspend. In 2013, the Bank of Montreal reported Canadians were expecting to spend $292 during Black Friday. If you’re the average Canadian shopper you could protect yourself from over spending by just visiting the bank machine and taking out $300 for the day. This will help you narrow down purchases to what you really need and want. When you run out of cash you know it’s time to go home.

Make a list

Most of us haven’t finished our holiday shopping and this might be a good day to cross a few of those items off your list. Unlike Boxing Day, where it’s all about you, Black Friday shopping is usually for getting some of your holiday shopping done. Research shows that shoppers who use a list spend almost 23 per cent less. So instead of heading out with the vague notion of buying a gift for your mom and a few co-workers, write it all down, with some idea of what they might like and how much you want to spend on them.

Finally, if you’re struggling to pay your bills and are worried about your budget this holiday season, it might be best to stay at home and away from the mall rush that can sometimes make you forget about all the debt you’re in. A better day to shop is Cyber Monday. On this day online retailers offer deep discounts similar to those on Black Friday. By shopping online you’re much more targeted in your purchases and not influenced by retailers' tactics to get you in their doors. Don’t wake up with buyer remorse, and if you do, make sure you’re back at the mall returning those items you know you can’t afford.

 

This article was originally published in Novemeber 2015.