PEOPLE taking advantage of the Black Friday specials. Henk Kruger African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - This Friday, November 23, is “Black Friday”, the traditional kick-off to the shopping season and often the busiest shopping day of the year. November 26 is Cyber Monday, the brainchild of online retailers, particularly those selling electronic equipment, cashing in on the sales frenzy.

“South Africa is the latest country to follow these shopping crazes, and while there are some great deals to be found, consumers need to watch their spending, especially in the current economy where downsizing and restructuring is leading to retrenchments,” says Rita Cool, a Certified Financial Planning professional at Alexander Forbes.

Cool says there are a number of ways to ensure that you remain a responsible shopper:

* Know your prices, as a discount is not always a bargain.

* Only buy with a list, to keep spending in check.

* Keep a budget in mind - not only what you can spend but also how you will pay back if you are buying on credit.

* If you are in debt, avoid temptation and stay away from the shops on Black Friday.

How do financially savvy people make Black Friday sales work best for them? Cool offers the following tips to ensure that you don’t finish your Black Friday shopping in the red:

* Shop online as early as possible when the sales open if you are shopping for something specific.

* Surfing the web aimlessly on the day will open you up to temptations.

* Research products beforehand so you know exactly what you want, including the model number. In your haste to save, you could end up buying a different model.

* Some companies may have recently increased their prices so it may appear that they are discounting a lot whereas the discount is actually quite small. Overseas, providers have to indicate the longer-term prices on an item before they can claim a specific discount.

* Ask yourself whether you are buying for a need or a want. You don’t have to have the latest gadgets, particularly if you can’t afford it. 

Supplied by Alexander Forbes

PERSONAL FINANCE