How to Survive Black Friday in 5 Easy Steps

how to survive black friday

Our inboxes and mailboxes are already full of the latest store flyers touting all the great sales and reasons to get up early on Black Friday to snag a great bargain. For many, this is an annual rite of passage, but it can also be a budget buster if you're not careful.

5 Steps to Surviving Black Friday

There are plenty of great sales on Black Friday and you need to have a plan to ensure you save money, rather than create the unplanned gift of debt.

Step 1: Have a Budget

This goes beyond just a budget for Black Friday but setting an overall Holiday budget. How much money can you afford to spend on Christmas without creating debt? I suggest breaking it down into the following categories:

  • Gifts - be sure to list each individual and the amount you will spend on them.
  • Food - are you hosting any holiday festivities? Or bringing food or beverages to any parties?
  • Decorations - do you need to replace your Christmas tree or outside lights? Need more wrapping paper or ribbons?
  • Travel - are you traveling this Holiday? How much for airfare, gas and/or hotel rooms?
  • Entertainment - are you going to any holiday shows or events?

I would also encourage you to set aside a little extra money as miscellaneous to act as a cushion for unexpected expenses. Now you can hopefully avoid ringing in the new year with new debt.

Step 2: Make a List of Items On Sale that You Need

Any savvy Black Friday shopper will tell you that you can't wing it. There are hordes of shoppers looking to score great deals, so this is not the time to window shop or browse. The good news is you've been inudated with flyers and coupons. Review the list of people you plan to buy gifts for this year (and remember—you don't have to buy everyone a gift) then find items that fit your budget and don't allow yourself to spend more than you allocated.

Step 3: Take Advantage of Apps

These days you no longer have to rely on store flyers to compare prices. There's an app for that! Carol from Let's Get Deals Today shared some of her favorite Black Friday apps, including TGI Black Friday and Black Friday by Fat Wallet. These apps help you see deals early, make lists and stay on budget. Both apps work on iPhone and android devices.

Step 4: Don't Get Caught Up in the Hype

Black Friday has become synonymous with great deals on electronics. People rush out to score $100 big screen TVs only to find out they were too late. Remember, these door busters are created to get you into the store. Every store has a very limited supply of those fabulous deals.

While the prices are often very low, they are generally not top tier electronics either. Obviously, this may or may not be a big deal to you, but don't forget TVs are heavily discounted before the Super Bowl too. They may not be as cheap, but you will be less likely to run into shortage issues and be able to find good deals on name-brand TVs. Kyle from Rather Be Shopping outlined a few items that you may want to avoid buying on Black Friday.

Step 5: Wait for Cyber Monday

Thankfully, these days you don't have to join the crowds on Black Friday to save money. Many stores have great deals online on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, letting you shop from the comfort of your own home.

Particularly on Cyber Monday, many stores lower their threshold to receive free shipping or outright offer free shipping.

While you won't get the packages overnight, you should still get them in plenty of time. While some sites offer timed specials, such as Amazon, generally when shopping online you have more time to think through your purchases too. Having a crowd breathing down your neck means you are sometimes forced into making snap decisions that you later regret. Shopping online can help alleviate that problem.

What's Your Plan of Attack for Black Friday?

Do you camp out with friends and family in front of your favorite store or do you avoid going out? I'd love to hear how you score the best deals during the holiday season.

shannon ryan

Shannon Ryan

Shannon Ryan, CFP® is a Mom on a mission to help busy parents teach their children simple, value-based principles that guide their money decisions and support their long-term financial well-being. Shannon wrote The Heavy Purse to help parents start money conversations with their children through a fun, bedtime story and developed companion workbooks to help deepen those conversations. Visit TheHeavyPurse to learn more on how to raise Money Smart Kids.

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    • Krista

      Krista 11/20/2013 2:07 p.m. #

      Honestly Black Friday has always stressed me out. I've gone with family a few times but the overwhelming obsessive nature of the crazy shoppers is too much, I'd rather pay a few dollars more to avoid the stress. I'd love to see a study on how much people save on average, something tangible to help me make up my mind as to whether it's really as great as so many shoppers think it is.

      • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

        Shannon @ The Heavy Purse 11/20/2013 8:05 p.m. #

        It is stressful, Krista. Fighting all those crowds. It would be interesting to see how much people save. I'm guessing it may not be as much as they think as there is a reason why stores offer such low prices to get you in the door. They know once you're inside you are far more likely to add a few extras to your cart as well!

    • Corina Ramos

      Corina Ramos 11/20/2013 9:43 p.m. #

      Hey ladies!

      I've only been to one Black Friday event and we might be going this year. I know one thing, I will not be leaving without my list and budget.

      I love all these tips you share, especially the one about not falling for the hype because it's true. They just want to get us there and they'll only have so many sale items in stock.

      Great post Shannon! Hope you're having a great week ladies!

      • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

        Shannon @ The Heavy Purse 11/21/2013 10:13 a.m. #

        Hi Corina! There is so much hype around Black Friday. And the truth is if it was profitable for businesses - they wouldn't do it. :) They know once you're in the store, you will most likely add a few extra items to your cart! I hope you're having a great week too!

    • CarolB

      CarolB 11/25/2013 4:26 a.m. #

      Hey Shannon and Sicorra, thanks for the great shout-out to my Black Friday app. And thanks for sharing your tips to everyone. For me, having a plan is very important ... and having breakfast afterwards!

      Happy Thanksgiving week, ladies.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 11/25/2013 2:08 p.m. #

        Happy to share your great post Carol. Hope you enjoy your week and have a great Thanksgiving!!

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