File picture: Philimon Bulawayo

Billions of shoppers around the world will be going bonkers on Black Friday. While it’s an opportune time to do your Christmas shopping, it’s also a gateway to overspending before the festive season even begins.

“Before you decide to go big this Black Friday, make sure you’ve made provision for all the things you need to pay for before you splash out on all the things you want,” advises Susan Steward, the marketing manager of Budget Insurance. “And don’t feel pressured to take advantage of every deal you see.”

According to social psychologist and professor at Kansas State University, Laura Brannon, although consumers are savvy enough to see through common marketing ploys, many still can’t stand the thought of missing out on a good deal.

Also read: Can you cope with tax hikes next year?

To help you avoid falling into the urge-to-spend trap this Black Friday, and throughout the festive season, Budget offers these helpful tips:

  • Budget beforehand. Setting a budget will help you to guide and limit your spending. If you’re planning to buy gifts, budget per person so that you know exactly what you can afford to spend on each of them.
  • Compare prices. During the year’s biggest promotional event, you may assume you’re getting the best prices, but this isn’t always the case. So to avoid getting duped, do your research before making your purchase.
  • Shop smart with your smartphone. Download money-saving and budgeting apps such as Spending Tracker, which allows you to set your budget, log your transactions and track your spending.
  • Shop online, not in-store. According to the International Council of Shopping Centres, 90% of holiday shoppers plan to spend in-store – a dangerous strategy for anyone on a budget. It’s also easier to avoid overspending online because you can jump from site to site instead of running from store to store to compare prices. In addition, you avoid frenzied shoppers and pumping holiday music, which can be a hidden spending trigger.
  • Curb you credit-card enthusiasm. You’ve spent your allotted Black Friday budget and then you see that certain something you can’t live without, but, before you reach for your credit card, think about how you want to start the New Year: with a clean financial slate, or looking at debt-management and debt-consolidation options?
  • Give those wish lists a reality check. Manage your children's expectations when it comes to their wish lists. According to a survey by United States asset company T. Rowe, many parents find themselves dipping into their retirement or emergency funds after overspending on their children's gifts, with 53% of respondents agreeing with the statement, "I try to get everything on my kids' lists, no matter how much it costs."
  • Leave "woofies" off the list. A dog dressed up as Santa Claus is truly adorable, but, because they generally don’t enjoy it and their outfit could set you back a few hundred bucks, skip dress up and give extra cuddles instead. 
  • Opt for a gift card. If you’re not sure what someone wants, rather give them a gift card than something like clothes and shoes. A survey by shopping site Splender showed that these were the items most likely to be returned.
  • Secret Santa can be super. Many families have made this a tradition because it can drastically reduce your gifting budget. By each choosing one member of the family to buy for and agreeing to spend the same amount of money, you can put more thought and effort into your gift, which is in the real spirit of giving.
  • An expensive month is around the corner. Keep in mind that the month when many of us have the least to spare also happens to be a very expensive one, particularly for parents who need to pay for school uniforms and school fees.

 “While you do your best to stick to your budget this festive season, cybercriminals will be out in full force, trying to get their sticky fingers on your hard-earned money. Be extra vigilant and keep an eye out for scams so that you can enjoy the holiday season uninterrupted,” Steward says.