The holidays are almost here! While I think you can start decorating for Christmas too soon (think August), you can never start planning your Christmas and Black Friday budget too early – especially considering that “Black Friday” sales are already happening!
Here are 7 steps to setting a Black Friday budget you can stick to!
Get organized: Who and what
The first step is to make a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for. Really try and think of everyone – family, friends, co-workers or service people in your life such as babysitters, mailmen and hairdressers.
Once you’ve made your list, write down a rough gift idea or category for each one. This will help you focus when you’re scanning all the Black Friday ads. For people not in your immediate family, you could even ask your kids around the dinner table if they have any gift ideas. It might help give you some inspiration.
Look at your current finances: How much can you actually afford?
Figure out what your total monthly income and normal expenses are. Subtract them. This will be your disposable income you can put towards your holiday gifts. Commit that you will not go into debt this Christmas season. It is never worth it.
If you aren’t doing it already, make a little savings fund for the Christmas season that you deposit into year round. I started doing this a number of years ago and it has made all the difference in setting and sticking to a Christmas or Black Friday budget. Having a Christmas fund takes all the pressure off. If you haven’t done it yet, start this January and put away what you can throughout the year. It all adds up!
Set a dollar amount for each person and stick to it!
Now that you know the total amount you have to spend, set a dollar amount for each person. Now comes the hard part – stick to it! This is so hard for me because I LOVE giving gifts! I’ll say, ‘Oh, but she’ll love this! An extra $6 isn’t that much.’ Don’t do it! This is where you can easily get into trouble. If you have a total dollar amount to spend and you spend extra on someone, you are subtracting that from someone else on your list. And you won’t want them to get shortchanged either. This cycle is what leads to overspending!
Look through the Black Friday ads early and find the specific gifts you will buy
You already have your rough gift ideas for each person. Now, look through all the Black Friday ads and see if one of the sale items fits with your gift ideas and your Black Friday budget.
Write down the item name, the cost and the store you will buy it from on your sheet. It’s also a good idea to write down when the gift is on sale. I’m sure you’ve noticed that stores have their ‘door busters’ at different times and it’s not always on Black Friday. It can get confusing between the different days and times.
I’ll talk about online shopping a little more later, but it would also be good to note which items you can buy online for Black Friday prices and pick up later. Like with Walmart, not all Black Friday deals are available online, but some are. For the ones that are, get those shipped to the store for free and pick them up a couple days later, after the rush.
Do some research: Get familiar with market prices
Just because it is Black Friday doesn’t mean it’s an amazing have-to-buy-now price. Don’t take the store’s word for it. This past year I noticed this a lot. Items were in the Black Friday ad like they were the craziest deals ever, but they were only 5-10% off. That’s not impressive. I understand a discount is a discount, but with Black Friday, it’s easy to think that if you don’t buy something at that price on that day, you’ll never be able to find it that cheap. Not true. Shop around. Only purchase the best deals.
Use apps like ShopSavvy, Flipp, and Red Laser to find the best deal across multiple stores. Simply scan the barcode of the items you want and see where the best deal is. And make sure to check out the Clark Deals recommendations as the “deal diggers” over there post what they consider to be the best deals as they arise.
Skip the stores and buy online – No distractions!
Buying online has some real advantages over going into the fray of physical stores. When you’re shopping online, you can search specifically for the items you want and not get distracted by items that are not on your list. There are no end-cap displays to distract you when you’re online. Remember, you’re on a mission to kick Black Friday’s butt!
Look for ways to increase your budget
Is your budget smaller than you would like it to be? Now is the time to brainstorm additional ways to make money this holiday season. Consider a work-from-home gig that could help you make some extra bucks. Or maybe drive for one of the ridesharing apps for a couple of months.
Have a garage sale or sell items on Facebook that you no longer use to add to your source of funds. The most important thing is to enter the new year with no debt and no regrets. Set yourself up for success and set a Black Friday budget that works!