Halloween has come and gone and that can only mean one thing: it’s sale season!
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, it’s only a matter of days til retailers will dial up the discounts. And while there are some epic doorbuster deals to be had, it can be easy to blow your budget and buy more than you can really afford to. During the 2019 holiday season alone, Americans racked up an average of $1,325 in holiday debt. Not an ideal way to ring in the New Year!
So, exactly how can you avoid overspending and the kind of shopping debt that hangs around until 2021? We have five tips to help you do just that. 👌
- Tip 1: Set a spending limit
- Tip 2: Make a list...and stick to it
- Tip 3: Unsubscribe from emails
- Tip 4: Track your spending
- Tip 5: Remember what’s really important
- The bottom line
Tip 1: Set a spending limit
Setting a spending limit is a good idea anytime you go shopping, but it’s especially important during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Why? Retailers will be advertising sales all over the place and, according to research from behavioral economist Dan Ariely, without a plan in place, sales make us act quickly and spend more than we should.
To help you combat the impulse to hit the buy button when you see a killer deal, set a spending limit for yourself. Look at your budget and how much you can realistically spend without putting yourself in a tough financial situation. Be specific with your limit and write down the exact amount you can spend during the sales. Make yourself a promise that you won’t go over that amount, no matter how big the discount is.
Tip 2: Make a list...and stick to it
Once you’ve decided on your spending limit, create your shopping list.
Are you primarily looking for gifts for the holidays? Are you upgrading your winter wardrobe or shopping for new home goods, too?
No matter what you’re shopping for, make a list of each item you intend to purchase and then do your homework. Research the different retailers that sell the item and what their sale dates are to optimize your spending. Keep in mind that retailers will be adjusting to the volume of online traffic this year and that might mean deals will become available before the traditional sale day.
For example, Walmart is staging three different Black Friday sales days through the month of November. And each of their sales will start online before moving in store.
Figure out which retailers offer the product you want to buy, and what their sale date is. When the sales prices are released, you can comparison-shop to find the best deal on exactly what you’re looking for.
Tip 3: Unsubscribe from emails
As we get closer to the sale season, retailers will be upping their email game. These messages usually feature steep discounts, flash sales, or limited-time offers—all of which make it hard to stick to your super-thoughtful shopping list or spending limit.
Trying to ignore these emails can be challenging—who wants to miss out on a deal? So rather than trying to rely on self-control, just hit unsubscribe from all retailers emails right now, before temptation has a chance to sneak in.
Remember: You can always re-subscribe later, but taking a break from the constant advertising in your inbox will make sticking to your budget much easier. And really, who doesn’t love a cleaner inbox?
Tip 4: Track your spending
Once you start shopping, it’s important to track your spending so you know whether or not you’re staying within your budget.
Many of us won’t be shopping in stores this year, so a strategy is key to keeping you from overspending.
- One option is to keep a running tally of each purchase you make. Add up your spending as you shop, so you can see how much is remaining.
- If you’re planning on shopping in-person, an easy way to track your total spent is by using cash. Fun fact: Research has shown that people will spend less when they shop with cash rather than a credit card.
And just like with online shopping, remember that rule: once you’ve hit your budgeted amount, it’s time to quit shopping and move onto other festive activities (eggnog anyone?).
Tip 5: Remember what’s really important
While giving gifts may be a really important part of your holiday tradition, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. This has been a financially challenging year for so many. Instead of stretching it or spending more than you can afford, give yourself permission to skip shopping this year and instead focus on what’s really important to you.
If you rein in your spending, know you’re not alone: consumers are planning to spend less this year than they did last year, according to a survey done by Accenture.
Whether it’s spending time with your loved ones or taking care of yourself financially and emotionally, focus on what matters most to you. If you can’t afford to shop the sales this year, don’t worry: the deals will be there next year, and the next, and the next.
The bottom line
Navigating discounts and getting the best deals can be fun. But it’s important to get your strategy in place before the sales start. Whether you plan to go big on Black Friday or you’re trying to cut back on your spending, using these five tips will help you indulge in holiday shopping this season, in a way that works for you (and your wallet)!