Black Friday and Cyber Monday: How to Shop Strategically to Avoid Debt

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Black Friday: It's the start of the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Right after Thanksgiving, our minds move into holiday mode, causing us to crave those Black Friday deals that now extend to Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday got its name from the prevalence of online deals on the Monday after Thanksgiving to extend the shopping weekend.

Where did Black Friday come from?

Historically, Black Friday was created as a day in which retailers who were in the red attempted to get their financials into the positive (the black) by offering special sales, discounts, and offers. These were meant to increase their revenue, and in turn, their profits.

This weekend is all about big sales and discounts meant to incentivize people to spend as much money as possible.

On the flip side, it's also notoriously a time when people rack up tons of debt buying gifts for their loved ones. But once the new year rolls around and those credit card bills arrive... well, it sucks. Here are some tips to ensure you don't derail your finances or financial goals this Black Friday weekend.

1. Don't Shop the Sales... At All

Yup, I said it! A lot of times the best sales are not even during Black Friday. It's just that every single retailer has sales, so people assume the sales are the best ones. So how about skipping the sales and shopping the January sales instead? Or not even shopping at all? Not only will you keep more money in your pocket, your financial goals will stay intact. Don't hate me, but this is a pretty solid suggestion.

2. Make a list, go early

It's essential you have an idea of what you're buying and who you're shopping for during the sales so you don't get carried away and overspend. Sales don't save you any money if you're spending more on sale items than you would if you had just purchased a few full-price items. Start by making a list of all the things you'd like to buy and a plan of what stores you'll be going to.

Timing matters because you don't want to get caught up in the crowds. Also, you don't want your desired items to sell out, AND you want to make sure you catch that early-bird sale!

3. Save yourself the time and hassle and shop online

You can avoid the shops altogether and shop online instead. A lot of deals can be found online since retailers tend to offer similar sales in their online shops in comparison to the sales going on in their physical shops. Also around this time of year, most shops tend to offer discounted or free expedited shipping as an added incentive.

4. Create your own "out of the red, into the black" plan

If retailers are focusing on their finances, why shouldn't you? You can spend this weekend creating your debt repayment plan, mapping out your retirement savings plans, determining your emergency fund amount and creating a plan to save for it.

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You can totally get through the holiday sales season with some great bargains without impacting your finances. But in order to do this, you need to have a plan in place.

Are you shopping on Black Friday or skipping it? Share your plans in the comments below!

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