November is a month for turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce. For leaves piled so high, you could dive right into them. For crisp mornings, cold nights, and football. It’s also a month for shopping. I’m talking about “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, a veritable Christmas Day for retailers
around the country. In 2019 alone, 189.6 million people did their holiday shopping on Black Friday – 84.2 million in stores and 93.2 million online.1 Think about that: one hundred and eighty-nine million people! All of them hope to get their holiday shopping done early by securing the best deals before the
shelves and warehouses are stripped clean.
The ironic thing is that many people who shop on Black Friday actually end up losing money instead of saving it. That’s because, in all the frenzy and excitement of chasing after deals, it’s easy to spend more money than you planned. So, to keep your wallet “in the black” this Black Friday, here are a few
things to remember:
1. Be careful driving to the store.
If you’ve ever driven on Black Friday, you know that the roads can be chaotic. People are out in droves. And with everybody trying to get their hands on the latest video game console, or designer purse, drivers aren’t always displaying the best judgment. Speeding, reckless turns, and bumper-to-bumper traffic can lead to accidents. Accidents can lead to costly car repairs and higher car insurance premiums … surely erasing whatever savings you hoped to gain.
2. The deals may be great, but the quality may not.
This is especially true of electronics. While items on sale may be discounted, the top-of-the-line brand-name products might not be. Retailers know that consumers are usually willing to pay top dollar for these, so they have little incentive to provide lower prices. Alternatively, you can sometimes find good
deals on top-brand items after Black Friday.2
3. Beware of impulse buying.
Once you’ve entered a store, retailers go to great lengths to get you to buy items you hadn’t originally intended to buy. Even grocery stores do it—ever notice the gum, candy bars, and lurid magazines they sell next to the check-out stand? Impulse buying can be taken to a whole new level on Black Friday. It’s easy to get caught up in the vast inventory of merchandise around you, especially if it’s on sale. While you may initially have gone to a store just to get a new cell phone, it’s easy to look around and see those great headphones on sale or that nifty digital picture frame. Master the impulse to buy these items, even if they’re a “great deal.” No matter how great the deal is, they still cost money, and they’re not what you went shopping for. So, buying them means you’re giving up money for the things you really want for the things you only want right now.
4. Use cash, not credit cards.
Cash is handy on Black Friday because it can help limit impulse shopping. If you only have enough cash to buy the items on your list, you’ll be immune to temptation. More to the point, though, is the danger of credit cards on Black Friday. While credit cards make shopping convenient, they can be a major drag on your finances. The average fixed interest rate for credit cards in 2022, as of this writing, is 22.21%.3 Store-issued credit cards are even worse. These may contain special offers, such as 10% off the first purchase using the card. But their interest rates are high, with the average being 26.72%.4 Any savings you make on Black Friday could be obliterated by these rates alone. For that reason, leave your credit card at home and stick to cash as much as possible.
5. Be wary when shopping online.
As I mentioned, 93.2 million people did their Black Friday – or Cyber Monday – shopping online in 2019. That number will no doubt be even higher this year. But it’s not the only number going up. Online shopping scams increased by 34% in 2021 compared to 2020.5 Victims of these scams lost over
$1000 on average.5 Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to protect yourself, including:
- Always double-check to make sure the website you are shopping on is genuine.
- Resist the urge to make a purchase quickly, especially if the deal feels “too good to be true.” This is when people often leave themselves open to scams.
- Avoid blind-buying large or expensive items like TVs, furniture, gaming systems, or smartphones, if possible, unless you know you are shopping from a reputable source. Buying from a third party or private seller may seem tempting because of lower prices, but you must be able to verify the item actually exists!
- Be especially careful responding to email promotions. These can be phishing scams.
Hopefully, you find these tips helpful. But no matter where, how, or if you shop, I want to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season.
1 “78 Black Friday Statistics You Must Read,” FinancesOnline, https://financesonline.com/black-friday-statistics/
2 “11 Things Not to Buy on Black Friday,” DealNews, https://www.dealnews.com/features/black-friday/Things-Not-to-Buy-on-Black-Friday/
3 “Average Credit Card Interest Rate in America Today,” LendingTree, https://www.lendingtree.com/credit-cards/average-credit-card-interestrate-in-america/
4 “Beware store credit card offers as interest rates hit new highs,” CBS News, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/store-credit-cards-apr-record-high/
5 “Experts share tips to avoid online scams after surge in Black Friday cases,” Yahoo! News, https://www.yahoo.com/news/experts-share-tipsavoid-online-103834988.html