For all the happiness and joy that the holiday season brings, many of us know it can also come gift-wrapped with some serious financial stress. And it all begins the day after Thanksgiving, a.k.a. Black Friday.

With bellies still recovering after an evening spent gobbling up turkey legs, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, millions of Americans will wake up extra early the next morning and then swarm the nearest shopping mall. Or they’ll crack open their laptops and leap into their browser’s search-engine rabbit hole, with visions of finding the year’s hottest sale items dancing in their heads.

As you are undoubtedly aware by now, Black Friday can be a serious challenge. But RISE is here to help you become more prepared than ever to escape this day unscathed. That’s right: this Black Friday, you can meet all your gift giving obligations and still achieve better financial health by January. It won’t be easy. But with a little planning and a whole lot of brutal honesty about your spending, you can breeze through the holidays without adding any extra debt.

Sound good? Then let’s get started with these Black Friday tips!

 

Tip1: Plan, plan, and then plan some more

You’ve made your list, checked it twice, and this Black Friday, you’re ready to cross every last item off that list. But before you whip out that credit or debit card, know this: only 60 percent of all holiday spending is allocated for gifts. That means there’s a staggering 40 percent of holiday spending that many of us forget to budget for, like travel, meals, parties, and decorations. So this year when you start planning your holiday spending, remember to account for all the extras. Because nothing spoils the holidays quite like spending more than you planned.

 

Tip 2: Black Friday “SALE” signs can be very naughty

They’re alluring, inviting, and for many of us, completely irresistible. And while sales are, in theory, supposed to save you money — often they have the opposite effect. In fact, people who participate in holiday sales expecting to save money actually end up spending 50 percent more than they originally planned. Sales are still a great way to save. But this Black Friday, just make sure you stay true to your plan. And resist the temptation to throw some extra things in your cart just because they look like a “good deal.” Often, they’re not.

Before you head to the mall or open up your browser to start shopping, ask yourself, "Are Black Friday sales worth it?" Then, keep asking it as you compare prices. 

 

Tip 3: Plan your spending, not your purchases

Know what can make your holidays even sweeter? How about knowing that you’re more in control of your finances than ever? One in three Americans overspend during the holidays. But not you. Not this year. Because now you know that planning what you will buy is less effective than setting a strict spending budget. So this year, keep this Black Friday tip in mind: Plan your holiday budget around your spending and not your purchases.

 

Tip 4: Prepare for unexpected expenses

With all the holiday fun, it’s hard to envision something not-so-fun happening. Unfortunately, expenses don’t take a holiday break. One slip down an icy staircase, or one icicle falling onto your windshield can smash your holiday budget — and your spirits. So be sure that your saving habits don’t hibernate this holiday season.

 

Tip 5: Know where the deals are

Direct your inner research elf to Google and otherwise keep an eye on the prices of items on your list so that you know whether you are paying a reasonable price. Many companies start offering discounts well before Black Friday. You can discover 2019 deals from Costco, Microsoft, and others in this article.

 

Tip 6: Use a Black Friday app

Apps such as Santa’s Bag and ShopSavvy can guide your discounts, shopping news, and other helpful Black Friday information. Check out this list of seven free Black Friday apps from NerdWallet to find the one that works for you.

 

Tip 7: Consider opting out

Some companies have de-emphasized Black Friday as a sales strategy to discourage what can become a frenzy. Outdoor retailer REI closes its stores on Black Friday and encourages people to spend time outside instead, ideally participating in a cleanup group.

 

Should you shop on Black Friday?

If you enjoy hunting for bargains and the energy of Black Friday shopping, stick to your spending plan and have fun. But if you prefer to spend your time outdoors, at work, or enjoying a cup of hot chocolate at home, why not do what makes you happy?

 

The gift that keeps on giving…

The holidays can be stressful enough, without worrying about your finances. So start planning for your better future, right now. Implementing these Black Friday tips can help you stress less- throughout the holiday season. 

Happy shopping! And Happy holidays to all!

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