Black Friday, arguably the greatest shopping day of the year, is almost upon us. As the gateway to the holiday shopping season, it’s the perfect love story between retailers and consumers.
Businesses seeking to end the year strong and in the positive (or, in accounting terms, in the “black”) offer some of the year’s best sales. And consumers looking to save money happily flock to the stores to cash in on these amazing deals.
Between the festive atmosphere and being in the giving spirit, it’s easy to get carried away. However, with a bit of preparation, you can make the day fun and memorable – and score some awesome deals!
1) Create a Budget
The biggest mistake shoppers make during the holidays is not creating a budget. While you might already have a normal monthly budget, you’ll want to create one specifically for the holidays. Between traveling, decorating, entertaining, and buying gifts, the holidays are one of the most expensive times of the year.
Spend some time determining what you can realistically afford to spend. While you want the holidays to be fun and memorable, you also don’t want to start the new year off in substantial debt.
2) Make a List
Create a list of everyone you plan to purchase gifts for this year. Then, set limits on how much you will spend on each person. Again, between the bright lights, festive music, and blow-out sales, it’s easy to get caught up and start spending frivolously. With a list in hand, you’ll be more likely to stick to your budget.
3) Avoid Credit Card Deals
Practically every store you visit today entices you with lucrative offers to sign up for their credit card. It can be difficult to say no when you’re already in cost-saving mode. However, most of these credit cards come with steep fees and extremely high-interest rates. Because of the fast-paced shopping environment, these stores are hoping you’ll sign up and not have time to review the terms of the credit card – which are rarely in your favor. Instead, do your best and just say, “no, thank you.”
4) Choose a Holiday Loan
Credit cards reign king during holiday shopping. Their convenience of use makes shopping a breeze. But credit cards are rarely the best financial option. Instead, opt for a holiday loan.
Holiday loans offer three financial perks that outshine credit cards:
- Set Amount: Borrowing a specific dollar amount makes it easier to stick to your budget and prevent overspending.
- Lower Interest Rates: Most holiday loans offer lower interest rates than traditional credit cards – meaning you’ll spend less on interest and more on holiday fun.
- Quicker Payoff: Instead of only making a minimum payment on a credit card, holiday loans have set repayment terms designed to help you avoid long-term debt.
5) Research Prices
Before you head out on Black Friday, spend time researching prices. Retailers often play pricing games leading up to the big day. For example, an item might cost $25 today. Days before Black Friday, the price jumps to $35. Then on Black Friday, the same thing is on “sale” for $30.
Research all prices ahead of time to ensure you’re getting a good deal. With many businesses announcing their Black Friday sales early, it’s easy to start researching prices now.
6) Comparison Shop
Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to compare prices – even if you’re already at a store. Many shopping apps allow you to scan barcodes on items with your smartphone and compare prices at other retailers.
When shopping online, add an item you want to purchase to your cart. Then, search for the same item at other stores before clicking “buy.” Make sure you consider the total price – including shipping.
7) Know the Return Policies
Large retailers like Amazon and Walmart have spoiled consumers with their flexible return policies. However, that’s not always the case at other stores. Many companies still require shoppers to pay return shipping costs and restocking fees. This is especially common among smaller businesses that often cannot afford to eat these substantial costs.
8) Choose Online or In-Person
Some people love the hustle and bustle of the Black Friday shopping experience. It’s a tradition to get to the stores when they first open and snag those amazing doorbuster deals. However, nowadays, many retailers offer the same lucrative deals online – allowing you to partake in the same blockbuster sales from your couch while sipping coffee in your pajamas.
9) Avoid Carrying Cash
While the Black Friday experience is meant to be fun and exciting, it’s not without bad actors. To avoid attracting unwanted attention to yourself, limit how much cash you carry. Many people like to use cash as a way to budget and prevent overspending. If that’s the case, you might consider putting the money on a pre-paid debit card.
10) Double Check Your Virus Protection
Online shopping is just as popular on Black Friday as in-person, which makes it prime time for fraudsters and scammers. To protect yourself, make sure you have virus protection on all your devices – computers, tablets, and smartphones – and that it’s up to date.
11) Take a Friend Along
It’s always wise to take a friend or family member along with you on your Black Friday shopping excursion. Not only will they help keep you company and make the experience more enjoyable, but it’s also safer – especially when walking to your car in parking lots.
12) Download our Free Mobile App
When you’re going from store to store on Black Friday, having access to your accounts is a must. With our Free Mobile App, you can conduct most routine banking transactions. Need to transfer money from your Savings to your Checking Account? No problem! Want to know your current balance? It’s just a few taps away!
Stay in the know and report any suspicious account activity instantly. Our app only takes a minute to download and is available on the Apple AppStore and Google Play.
We’re Here to Help!
The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year! Between celebrations with family and friends, festive music, and delicious foods, what is not to like?
It’s also one of the most expensive times of the year. That’s why it’s essential to prepare beforehand and keep all your finances organized. Whether it’s enrolling in mobile banking, applying for a holiday loan, or protecting yourself from fraud, we’re here to help.
If you have questions about your account or want to learn more about our holiday specials, please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or call (949) 588-9400 to speak with a team member. Happy holidays!
Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.
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