Ever since the post-Thanksgiving craze travelled across the Atlantic and spread across the UK, Black Friday has sent us Brits into a yearly frenzy of deals, bargains and spending. But are you really getting the most for your money, or could Black Friday see you in the red for the rest of the month? Read on for our advice on enjoying the sales without the stress.
Do you really need it?
As you head out to the bustling shops on Friday (and indeed over the weekend and into next week), there’s a chance it will become very easy to empty your pockets for something you don’t really need. Your head will naturally tell you that because a product is on offer, it’s a ‘must-have’. However, if you weren’t going to buy it in the first place, you’re effectively losing far more money than you’re saving.
You can help to avoid this problem by making a list before you shop. Are there certain presents or bits and bobs you need for Christmas? Add them to the list and keep an eye out for deals that will help you to save on the festivities. That way, if you see something on your list is on offer, you can snap it up for a discounted price, without getting sucked into impulse purchases.
Is it worth the money?
The unfortunate truth is that many retailers use the Black Friday hype to sell off any naff products they’re struggling to get rid of elsewhere. You could be snapping up a TV or other appliance for a fraction of the cost, but it’s not good value for money if it’s going to go kaput in a matter of months. If you ask us, you’re much better saving up gradually to get yourself a more reliable product.
If you do decide to go for a Black Friday deal though, just be sure to do your research first. Which? has thousands of expert product reviews that you can access for as little as £1 – knowing which brands and products are rated highly and which get slated will help to inform your shopping and ensure you bag a genuine bargain.
Can your budget handle the hype?
Unfortunately, your monthly budget is going to be the same whether it’s Black Friday or not, so don’t blow it all in one go. Of course, if you want to go shopping with your friends or family, you have every right to allow yourself a little extra to enjoy the day of deals, but here’s the thing – you just need to be clear on how much you can afford. Before you hit the shops, work out your allowance for the next month, allocate a portion for your sales shopping and make sure you have enough to cover everything else until the end of December. After all, even the most fancy gadgets aren’t worth the stress of getting into financial difficulty.
As always when it comes to money, it’s about priorities. Check out the Money Advice Service's handy Budget Planner to help you figure out your allowance. For a more detailed look at how to manage your money better, why not sign up to a CAP Money Course? With two sessions set over a fortnight, the course is designed to quickly equip members with the skills to budget, spend more wisely and save for the future. There's also CAP Life Skills, an eight-week course with practical sessions on how to live well on a low income, including advice on shopping and cooking on a budget. Go on, give it a try!
Is online spending the problem?
Gone are the days when the sales madness was only found in stores – now it's online too, with crazes like Cyber Monday costing Brits millions of pounds every year. The problem with this is that it’s even easier to spend big, make impulse purchases and blow a lot of money, all with a few clicks of a mouse.
The advice above – making a list, doing your research and knowing your allowance – is still very much relevant when it comes to online shopping. Consider also unsaving your payment details from retail websites. This will help when temptation strikes by taking away at least one element of the ease and speed of online shopping – useful ahead of Cyber Monday.
Could you do more with your money?
Every year, the Tuesday after Black Friday (29 November this year) marks Giving Tuesday, a global online campaign that encourages people to support charitable giving. The campaign aims to shift the focus from Black Friday spending and Christmas shopping to giving something back and helping out good causes.
CAP is a registered partner and there are thousands of other outstanding causes you can choose to support. Pay a visit to givingtuesday.org to find out more and don’t forget to use the hashtag #GivingTuesday on social media to let everyone know what you’re up to.