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Don’t get the blues this Black Friday

This one is coming at the back end of an extraordinary year – there has never been a better time to look at the big picture and stick to your budget.
It’s happening this coming Friday, November 27, with many retailers running extended campaigns this year. Image: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg

Let’s face it, Black Friday is a sales gimmick designed to get the big spending season off to a spanking start. As such, it represents a real danger in terms of overspending. At the same time, it does present an opportunity to get some excellent bargains.

An extra factor this time round is that 2020 has been something quite out of the ordinary in anyone’s book. This year we could all find ourselves even more susceptible to spoiling ourselves and our loved ones after all the rigours of lockdown. However, most of us are experiencing financial and/or job uncertainty, and that is likely to persist for the foreseeable future.

It’s time to take extra care of your finances because you never know what is coming next.

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How to strike the right balance? Here are some guidelines:

Stick to your budget. It’s easy to be seduced by a fantastic price. It’s a good rule of thumb to buy only what you were already planning to buy, no matter the price. So if you were in the market for a new fridge, TV or whatever it might be, then go ahead and take advantage of the special offer. If you’re sensible, you have a budget to guide your spending – don’t let an apparent bargain derail your finances – especially now when the economy is so unpredictable.

Do your research. Before buying that article you have on your list, make sure the Black Friday offer is really a bargain. Before you set foot into a shop or venture online, make sure you know the specifications you want. Cultivate your inner cynic – retailers have come to rely on Black Friday and they will have their hype machines set to top speed. Keep your head. Some advice:

  • Your research should cover whether the article advertised has all the features you want, or whether they will add to the cost – a good example is super low-priced computer printers that come without the cable or printer ink.
  • Investigate the Android or iOS shopping apps that can help make shopping for the best Black Friday deals easier. These can help you find the best deals and compare prices while you shop.
  • Look out for Black Friday advertisements – many of the special offers are time-sensitive and these will be specified in the ads and will help you plan your day.
  • Use either the shopping apps or price-comparison sites to compare prices – but make sure you compare apples with apples.

Make sure it’s really therapy. Yes, we all know that buying something can produce a lift, and can be a harmless pleasure. But if it’s a relatively big-ticket item, that rush can be short-lived if you didn’t really want it or need it, and it leaves you hard up for the rest of the month. Never buy anything just for the sake of it: buyer’s remorse can be a real downer.

I always advise people to have a separate budget item for discretionary spending on treats – if you have something put aside to spoil yourself or someone else, use that money with a clear conscience.

This year, of all years, make Black Friday work for you rather than the other way around.

Natasja Hart is head of advice at GCI Wealth.

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