Don’t Get Burned On Black Friday

Black Friday is coming up, and while the day seems to be taking on less and less importance with the advent of stores opening on Thanksgiving, there will surely be some big time shopping going on.

syt-201311shoppingWhile you can save some money, there are a few hard and fast rules that you need to keep in mind so that you don’t turn Black Friday into a big money waster instead of a big money saver:

  • Have a list – Black Friday deals are published well in advance these days.  You should know exactly what you want and from what stores you plan on buying the items from.
  • Stick to your list – Many places make you go to the back of the store to get your great deal.  And, you’ll likely have to wait in line.  During all that time, you’ll be exposed to plenty of other items that you might be tempted to buy.  If it’s not on your list, don’t buy them!  Otherwise, you’re likely taking all of the savings from your pocket and giving it right back to the store.  At that point, you might as well stay in bed!
  • Have a backup plan – If your list includes an item like a tablet that you have earmarked as a gift, know in advance what you will do if the item is sold out before you can get one?  Will you pay more?  Will you look elsewhere?  Will you go for an entirely different item?  If you don’t have any plan, chances are you’ll panic and either end up with something you don’t want, or something you paid too much for.  Or both.
  • Know how you will pay for it – If you’re planning on putting your purchase on a credit card, do you have the money set aside to pay for it.  If not, then the $50 item can cost you double that by the time you pay it off many months later.  Knowing that, is it still worth it?
  • Know when to quit – Last year I bought my wife a camera for Christmas. It was already over the budget we’d set for ourselves, but I tweaked things to make it work.  As I was buying it, they tried to talk me into a bundle add-on which included some additional stuff, and it was $500 worth of stuff that was being added on for $200.  The allure of saving an extra 60% on this extra stuff stopped and made me think, and for many they would have jumped in, spending $200 that they didn’t have budgeted. Luckily I stuck to my guns, but I know many don’t.
  • Don’t lose your smile – Most Black Friday deals are centered around the holidays.  Yes, the holidays that are meant to celebrate and bring cheer and kindness and all the other warm fuzzy things that we associate.  As you’re waiting in line or fighting the crowds, don’t forget this. If you’re putting yourself or others at risk of injury just to save a few bucks, then in my mind the savings aren’t worth it, no matter how great they may be.

Happy shopping!

Copyright 2013 Original content authorized only to appear on So You Think You Can Save. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Things We Are Saving For

Saving is important, but what are you saving for?  Having clearly defined goals is a key factor in whether saving is a priority and whether it is successful.  Because, face it, everybody wants to save more, but unless you have the proper motivation, it can easily get pushed off.

Here are ten things we are currently saving for:

  1. Retirement – I like working and I like what I’m doing, but at some point I won’t want to work anymore, and I’d like to feel comfortable and secure when that day comes.
  2. New car – We have two cars, 6 and 7 years old respectively.  We don’t drive a lot of miles, so hopefully they last at least another 6-7 years each, but we put aside some money for when that day comes.
  3. Car repairs – The cars run great but things wear out or break down, so when the inevitable bills come, we like to have money stashed away.
  4. Home repairs – This past spring, we had to put a new roof on our house.  By saving money each month for this and similar repairs, we were able to write a check and pay for the whole thing without a second thought.
  5. Property taxes – The tax bill comes twice a year, but by saving throughout all twelve months, we never have to figure out how to pay this big bill.
  6. Kids needs – We have two kids of preschool age who will also be ramping up costs for activities and lessons, so we set aside some money on a regular basis to cover these costs.
  7. College – Yes, another fund for the kids, but this one is a long term savings account,syt-201311college and will help pay for their college educations down the line.  I can’t promise that we’ll have enough to fully fund their educations, but we will promise to put them in a position where they won’t have to start in a deep hole, a position that so many people find themselves in who have to take out loans for a big chunk of their college education.
  8. Gifts – Christmas comes but once a year, right?  While that’s true, our strategy of setting aside money every month assures us that we can pay for all of our gifts without having to take on a credit card balance.
  9. Health – We have a health savings account to cover costs associated with health care, both as they come up now and for down the line.
  10. Vacations – With all that saving, we need a vacation every now and then!  We are planning a trip to Disney World in a couple of years, and have a fund specifically set aside for that goal.

Every household and family has different goals and different ways of getting there.  I’d love to hear some of your goals.

Copyright 2013 Original content authorized only to appear on So You Think You Can Save. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.