Prepare for an On-Budget Black Friday

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Black Friday is the answer to all your holiday shopping needs -- right? Let's take a closer look at how to make it work for you.

Black Friday deals have been around for years now, but that doesn’t mean that we’re used to them. For many people, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of shopping for the holidays the day after Thanksgiving.

But sometimes that shopping spirit can be taken too far. With so much advertising everywhere, it’s easy to feel like you need to buy all sorts of things – because it’s on sale, because it might make a great gift, or because this deal isn’t going to last forever. But do you really need to take advantage of all Black Friday deals that may or may not work for you? 

Some of those deals might in fact be too good to pass up. But you don’t need to jump on every sale, nor do you need to have every last item shipped to your door.

The environmental impact of online shopping sales from Black Friday is drastic. For example, Money’s 2020 Dirty Delivery Report estimated that in the UK, companies delivering online orders to homes would release 429,000 tons of CO2 emissions into the air just on Black Friday alone. That’s a staggering amount – and that’s for one small country compared to the US. 

So, how can you be mindful of the environment and still take advantage of the best deals on Black Friday? Here are three tips you should keep in mind as you’re shopping. 

Set Your Holiday Gift Budget

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When you see a good deal it may be tempting to jump on it and add it to your cart right away. However, it’s important to set a holiday gift budget – and a Black Friday budget specifically. Without a budget, you may find yourself spending more than you can actually afford.

Setting a budget is one thing, but sticking to it is another. Keep track of your purchases, either on paper, on a spreadsheet, or in a document. Know how much you’ve already spent – and how much you have left to spend – at all times. 

Remember, if you’re spending a lot on shipping fees, you can choose to buy local instead to save yourself some money and to help the environment. Choosing to buy online and pick up at the store is also a great way to help the planet and to save money.

Beware “Buy Now, Pay Later” Options

You can also save money by being cautious about how you shop. Specifically, if you’re tempted to take advantage of one of the many “Buy Now, Pay Later” options like Klarna or Afterpay, pause before you press submit.

Step back before you agree to one of these plans. See if you will truly be able to afford that purchase, now and in the future. If the answer is no, then it’s better to buy something less expensive that you can afford to pay for in full upfront. 

If you’re confident you can afford the monthly payments for that purchase, set reminders on your calendar so you don’t miss a payment. Of course, you need to make sure you’ll have enough money to cover them. Remember that missing payments can lower your credit scores, which can have a major negative impact on your financial health. 

Shop Small and Shop Local 

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Many local businesses participate in Small Business Saturday, which happens the day after Black Friday. While there are some big-box store deals you might need to jump on for Black Friday (like purchasing a new TV or gaming system), it’s a smart idea to set aside part of your budget for your local small businesses. 

We already mentioned that when you shop local, you can pick up your purchase in the store, which will save you on shipping costs and is better for the environment. But those aren’t the only benefits of checking gifts off your list at local shops.

First of all, you’ll be directly contributing to your local economy and local jobs. You’re supporting the people who live in your community and who work hard doing what they love. 

Also, you don’t need to worry about problems with the supply chain when you choose to shop locally. All you have to do is show up at the shop and buy your gift in person. There’s no need to repeatedly refresh a webpage hoping an item comes back in stock or to constantly check to see if a package will be delivered on time. 

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of Black Friday. Some of the deals are outrageous and too good to pass up. But even if a deal is actually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you need to make sure that you have the money in your budget to make the purchase – and that you’ll have money left over for any other gifts you need to buy. A balanced Black Friday will leave your bank account happy and will leave you with peace of mind. When you stick to these tips, instead of worrying about all the money you spent, you can focus on enjoying the holiday season with your friends and family.

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