Black Friday Is Coming. Here's How to Keep Your Spending in Check

Busy holiday shoppers on a crowded street decorated with lights.

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For many people, it's the most anticipated shopping day of the year. Here's how to avoid Black Friday overspending.

These days, it's not uncommon for retailers to stock the shelves with Halloween goodies on Labor Day. And come late October, you often see Christmas decor out on display. So in the spirit of planning ahead, now's a good time to establish your strategy for Black Friday shopping.

To be clear, there are often good deals on what's widely considered the best shopping day of the year. But there's also a risk to shopping on Black Friday: spending too much and racking up a giant credit card tab. Here are some ground rules to follow to avoid going overboard.

1. Set a budget

There's nothing wrong with taking advantage of Black Friday, provided your purchases don't land you in debt. But if you rack up a credit card balance that you can't pay off and have to carry, you subject yourself to interest charges, which could potentially hurt your credit score.

That's why it's so important to establish a Black Friday budget. Take a look at your paychecks and see how much money they'll provide for Black Friday spending. Then, assess any other sources of cash. For example, if you've socked money away in a savings account earmarked for holiday purchases, that's cash you can tap for Black Friday. Come up with a spending total -- and commit it to memory.

2. Make a list and stick to it

The number of deals on Black Friday can be overwhelming. It's crucial to make a list of the items you're looking to buy -- and avoid straying from it.

If you're lured in by discounts and other offers that day, you might max out your budget before you buy everything on your holiday gift list. The result? Unhappy family members and friends.

3. Have a cutoff

Black Friday deals tend to start at the crack of dawn (they're called "doorbusters" for a reason) and last all day. Heck, some Black Friday specials even begin the night before. All told, you could spend many, many hours making purchases. And the more time you shop, the greater your chances are of buying things you don't need or can't afford.

That's why it's good to have a cutoff. If you intend to start your Black Friday shopping at six in the morning, commit to finishing by noon. If you spend too many hours online or at stores, you might fall into a shopping haze, toss logic and reasoning out the window, and keep swiping your credit card.

Black Friday may be an event you're looking forward to, but be careful that it doesn't become harmful to your finances. If you're going to shop it up on Black Friday, stick to these guidelines so you don't regret your purchases -- and struggle with debt for months to come.

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