How to Keep Black Friday Spending Under Control

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I did Black Friday one time. It was a year when we had Thanksgiving in Kansas City without my husband's family for the one and only time I think we've done that since we got married -- we were broke, broke, broke that year, too broke to take a car ride/cheap hotel Thanksgiving roadie, and I was willing to try anything to stretch my holiday dollars farther. I got some good deals, but I also threw up in my mouth a few times at people's behavior, so now I try to avoid Black Friday at all costs. However, I am not going to judge anyone who wants to do it. So let's talk about how to do it best!

During my Black Friday experience, I noticed something about myself: I got sucked in. All of the sudden I was asking myself if I needed stuff I'd never even thought about because it was seventy percent off -- it was usually stuff we needed to replace around the house, not stuff I would consider giving for the holidays. Does this happen to you? Usually I'm pretty immune, but maybe this is because I don't shop for entertainment anymore, ever. It's gotten me into trouble every single time I go shopping with anything other than a specific item in mind. I hate clutter! But that Black Friday, I still wanted to buy crap that I knew in my heart was probably no better than what I had sitting at home, but it was NEW!

Ruth at Living Well, Spending Less has a great reminder that I'm trying to keep in mind this holiday season:

Value quality over quantity

Perhaps this is just my personal preference shining through, but I would much rather have one nice high quality item over 10 cheap ones that won’t last. Although it is always important for me to try to find the best price, it is equally important for me to find things that have true value. As easy as it is to get caught up in all the stuff, try to remember that Christmas isn’t about what or how much you can get. Spend your money wisely and value those things–and those people–that really matter.

That's precisely what I'm doing for everyone in my family except the seven-year-old, who could care less if her ducky house is made of cardboard if that's what she fell in love with in the catalog. Knowing that she's only going to want to play with toys -- real toys -- for a few more years allows me to throw the notion of quality out the door without feeling too much remorse. The child wants quantity, and that's why Ebay was invented. She also does not care if her fake American Girl's clothing is also fake or -- even better -- fake and used. She just wants the joy of rolling in a whole bunch of doll clothes, and I'm happy to do it. Everyone else? I really want their presents to last, and I'm not rolling in the dough this year. I'm looking for things I know fit their interests and that are well made, and I don't have a budget in mind. If I can find what I want to get them for less, I'm not going to pad a quality present with more junk just to hit some spending limit in my mind. They'll never know the difference. (Well, they will if they read this, but I'm sure they wouldn't care.)

If you, like me, want the deals but not the chaos, you could try these tips.

crowded store

Credit Image: HIKKERS on Flickr


Fashion Diva Mama at Best Black Friday Secrets shares this:

Super Secret #1

Go shopping the night before Black Friday for deals, many times the sales items will already be in the stores computer system, and they will give it to you for that price! This is a huge opportunity for Black Friday deals! Use the little scanners in the aisle to check the prices. If anything, you'll also get a sense of where all the sales items are!
This doesn't always work, but when it does you score bigtime! Some of the larger chains have caught on, and wrap up their Black Friday merchandise before the sale now!

My stars. Seriously?

Karen at Saving the Family Money has this tip:

Price Adjustments – If you know you want a laptop from Best Buy but you’re worried about it being available on Black Friday, or fighting the crowds. Ask what their policy is for price adjustments. If you buy it ahead of time and they reduce it within a certain number of days, will they give you a price adjustment? Be sure to ask specifically about Black Friday prices in case they exclude them.

Those two are enough for me, but if you really want to brave Black Friday, head over and read Peeved Michelle at Opinions for Nothing. She sounds serious:

Carry a large shoulder bag. It needs to be comfortable, but big enough for your ads and a water bottle in addition to your usual stuff. Most importantly, though, it needs to stay out of your hands. Also, pack a large, reusable shopping bag. You won't always be able to get a cart in the store and, actually, a cart will slow you down.

And may The Force be with you.

Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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