Keeping your bank balance in the green this Black Friday

Don't be caught in Black Friday madness by overspending. Have a budget and stick to it ./ ESA ALEXANDER
Don't be caught in Black Friday madness by overspending. Have a budget and stick to it ./ ESA ALEXANDER

Retailers already started getting shoppers revved up for the holidays with festive season advertising on display last month, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are no exception.

Over the years, Black Friday has become one of the biggest shopping days on the retail calendar with consumers flocking to shopping centres or clicking away on their digital devices for the best deals on offer.

Black Friday traditionally kicks off the shopping season and often the busiest shopping day of the year. November 26 is Cyber Monday, born out of retailers' attempts to persuade customers to shop online.

Research by Global Analysis suggests this years' event will be even bigger than before, with their survey finding 66% of South Africans intend to participate - an increase of almost 12% from the previous year.

But as tempting as sales may be, they don't always mean you save money. Confronted with hundreds or even thousands of deals, overspending is a real risk. Here's how to end Black Friday still in the black.

It's all in the money management

"Consumers can make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday by prioritising money management, which means looking at your finances to determine how much you can afford and how you will fund your potential spend," says Christoph Nieuwoudt, CEO of FNB Consumer.

Keep in mind that while you are plotting a bargain hunt, retailers are also looking to secure healthy profit margins! Always tackle the shopping weekend financially prepared.

Budgeting, he explains, means you immediately know what money is coming in and going out - which makes it the primary principle of money management.

Always check your budget beforehand, advises Mpho Ramapala, manager of education and communication at the National Credit Regulator. Moreover, she adds, decide what you want to buy, and save in advance for those sale items.

"Don't just look around, as you may be tempted to buy something you didn't need," agrees Rita Cool, Certified Financial Planner at Alexander Forbes.

Most importantly, says Cool, don't buy on credit if you're already over-indebted.

Once you have your budget and your big-ticket savings sorted, a few additional steps will have you sailing through the mall with your finances intact.

Your mental shopping list

Once you have planned out your shopping spree, get into the right head space. In addition to your actual shopping list, it is important you keep a "mental shopping list" of tips and tricks to keep you on track.

Don't assume with a great price comes great quality. If you question the quality, it's probably not worth your hard-earned cash. Buying something on impulse will only give you short-lived gratification followed by regret and money down the drain.

Avoid store credit if you don't have the cash to immediately cover the items you want.

Although store cards can be a good thing when used prudently to take advantage of free credit, there is also the opportunity for abuse. Store cards can have significantly high interest rates and your repayments can increase drastically if you miss instalments.

Diversify your shopping by checking online retailers for deals that often beat brick and mortar stores. Some businesses hold off their online markdowns until Cyber Monday, which can start as early as the Saturday after Black Friday.

Don't look out for sales on Black Friday only, although it can be a great time to pick up some things close to nothing you can still get some great deals before or after Black Friday.

Make sure to watch prices from the end of October to the end of January, to ensure you are saving as much as possible and spreading your shop.

Lastly, says Ramapala, always have expenses related to a new year at the top of your mind when you plan your Black Friday shopping.

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