Black Friday can be a great opportunity to score some tremendous deals, but it can also be easy to fall into holiday shopping pitfalls. Thankfully, many of these potential problems can be avoided given proper recognition and planning.
Approaching Black Friday and Cyber Monday with an understanding of some common missteps will help you take advantage of the best deals on offer in an informed and intelligent manner. Read on for a look at major holiday shopping mistakes to avoid this season.
1. Spending more than you can afford
Staying within your budget might sound like obvious advice, but shoppers can easily convince themselves that they're able to spend more than is financially prudent. A survey from Bankrate found that over 60% of Americans felt pressure to spend more money during the holiday season than made sense for their budget. That kind of pressure, combined with the fear of missing out on big discounts or disappointing loved ones, can easily lead to purchases that put you in an unnecessarily difficult financial position and put a damper on your holiday spirits.
2. Misusing credit cards
Every year, millions of people turn to new or existing credit cards to fund their holiday shopping. If the interest rates aren't favorable or the balance isn't paid back within a reasonable time frame, that means the expenses can wind up being significantly higher than the attractive sticker price on that hot holiday item.
Signing up for new credit cards can also lower your credit score, which can have implications down the line that significantly ramp up the real cost of your holiday spending. What's more, many retail credit cards tend to have high interest rates, and signing up for store credit cards to fund your gift buying can dramatically raise your real costs if you don't quickly pay back the principal amount.
If you have favorable cash-back deals and low rates, it's possible to make credit cards work in your favor, but be careful not to let you're spending get ahead of what you can quickly pay back.
3. Thinking a low price equals a great deal
Just because the sticker price looks like a screaming deal doesn't mean you're getting great value. Checking product reviews and making educated estimates about which products actually offer appealing value is a must.
Think of it this way: If you buy a piece of electronics because its price looks super cheap relative to similar offerings in the category, but it winds up breaking within the next year or has serious performance issues, is that a good deal? There are enough bargains and discounts during Black Friday and Cyber Monday that spending a little bit more for quality can work to your benefit over the long term.
4. Failing to shop around for the best deals
If there's a retailer that's offering an especially enticing deal, it can be tempting to do all of your shopping at that one location. That might seem convenient, and the amount of time that you spend traveling to different stores and shopping is something you should take into account, but surveying the field can also pay off in big ways. Familiarize yourself with the best deals at each store, and be sure to check out online deals for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the holiday shopping season to cut down on time spent bouncing between stores.
5. Not having a shopping plan
Having a defined shopping list and sticking to it can be one of the easiest ways to make sure you don't overspend or waste time running around this holiday season. Setting and sticking to a budget will probably be much easier if you've mapped out all your purchases beforehand, and a well-defined plan can take a lot of the stress out of the holiday shopping rush.
Smart shopping will make your holiday much more enjoyable
The holiday season is about much more than just giving gifts and nabbing great deals. That should probably go without saying, but it can also be easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of deal hunting or feel pressured to go overboard on shopping sprees. Being able to give presents to loved ones is a wonderful thing, but spending time with each other and really valuing that time is what will really create lasting memories, and avoiding unnecessary shopping mistakes this Black Friday can put you in a better position to support and show appreciation for your family over the long term.