42% of Consumers Have Regretted Black Friday Purchases. How to Avoid Doing the Same This Year

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 18, 2021

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Parents and kids at shopping mall with shopping bags.

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Here's a good way to approach the most anticipated shopping event of the year.


Key points

  • Many consumers overspend on Black Friday and wind up unhappy about it later.
  • Here's a good way to approach Black Friday shopping.


Before we know it, Black Friday will be here, and with it will come a host of ways to spend your hard-earned money.

Now there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of some Black Friday discounts, especially if you can shop for those items without risking debt in the process. The problem, of course, is Black Friday can easily lead to impulse purchases. Those can easily set the stage for credit card debt.

In a recent Self Financial survey, 42% of consumers say they've regretted their Black Friday purchases. The purchases respondents regret run the gamut from electronics to clothing to health and beauty products. If you want to avoid falling into a similar trap, here are some ground rules worth setting ahead of Black Friday.

1. Set a budget ahead of time

One reason you may end up regretting your Black Friday purchases is they've caused you to spend more than you can afford. To prevent that, figure out a spending budget ahead of time. Maybe you can only swing $200 worth of purchases without landing in debt. Or maybe you have the leeway to spend $500. Either way, crunch those numbers beforehand, so you don't wind up upset with yourself.

2. Make a list -- and stick to it

There may be certain items you're eager to buy that you know will be on sale come Black Friday. Those may be worth buying. But once you start hitting the stores or browsing online, you might come across other deals that open the door to temptation. To avoid giving in, make a list of the items you're allowed to buy that day and promise not to stray from it.

3. Employ the full price rule

There's something about seeing the word "sale" that prompts consumers to buy things they otherwise wouldn't be interested in. In the course of your Black Friday shopping, when you're tempted to buy something not on your list, ask yourself, "Would I pay full price for this?" If the answer is no, then rethink your purchase before completing it.

Of course, ideally, you won't be straying from your list to begin with. But we're all human, and these things happen.

4. Do your research

The problem with some Black Friday deals is that they're really not discounts so much as alternate versions of a given product. And in many cases, "alternate" means "lower quality."

You might see a TV that normally retails for $800 being advertised for $500. But when you look closely, you might realize that you're not getting that $800 TV -- you're getting a different model with cheaper components (hence the lower price). To avoid regretting such purchases, research products before buying them -- especially electronics.

The last thing you want to do is come away from Black Friday feeling bad about the money you've spent and the things you've purchased. You definitely don't want to end up with debt that you carry with you into the new year. These tips could help you spend more savvily, so you don't join the ranks of consumers who regret their Black Friday buys.

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