7 Tips for Keeping You in the Black this Black Friday

November 23, 2010Keeping your own finances in the black this Black Friday

If you’re a Black Friday junkie, before you head out the door this Friday morning (likely EARLY Friday morning), please consider the following 7 suggestions for keeping your own finances in the black:

  1. Have a simple financing plan in place. There will be WAY more cool and attractive stuff on sale than you could possibly afford, so you’ll need to decide AHEAD OF TIME for whom you are purchasing the items, and how much you’re willing to spend for each person on your list. Create a simple chart with the names of gift recipients down the left hand column and the amounts you’re planning to spend on them in the right hand column. If you want to be more detailed, you could split the “Amount” column into two, with “planned amount” in the middle and “Absolute Maximum” amount on the right. Aim to spend no more than the middle amount, but commit now NEVER to exceed the right hand amount.
  2. Leave the cards (credit and debit) and the checkbook at home. You can’t overspend if all you’ve got is cash.
  3. Take a shopping buddy… but NOT JUST ANY shopping buddy. Go with the friend, family member or neighbor with whom you enjoy spending time but who will also keep you on financial track. Verbally commit to each other to stay within your stated spending limits.
  4. Budget for your Black Friday breakfast or brunch. Many make this meal part of their holiday traditions (in fact, for many, if may be the first time since consuming the Thanksgiving meal 20 hours or so earlier that they’re even able to eat). Just make sure you have a limit, you know restaurant’s price range, and you stick to your plan.
  5. Compare prices online: Make sure you know how much competitors are listing the items on your want list for. Check out their web sites. Of course, you have to take shipping and handling costs into account.
  6. Think in dollars, NOT percentages. Forget the sale signs. “75% off” doesn’t mean anything to your purse or wallet. The reality is NOT how much you’re saving but how much you’re spending. Remember that sales come and sales go. What’s “hot,” “in” and “cool” this year will be next year’s forgotten fad. However, you only get to spend the dollars in your wallet once. After that, they’re gone, and they’re not coming back. Make sure you’re spending them on your own priorities and not what the stores are telling you your priorities should be.
  7. Make your Christmas about the people in your life rather than the “stuff” you’re buying for them. We all know that relationships are more important than things, yet too often we get caught up year-after-year in buying and consuming. This year, get creative by spending MORE TIME with the important people in your life and spending LESS MONEY for stuff that will sooner or later likely end up in the attic, garage, or, worse, the dump just taking up space.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, and (although still a few days early by my standards, but if you can’t beat ’em…) a very Merry Christmas!

Todd Christensen
Director of Education
www.NationalFinancialEducationCenter.org
Facebook: MoneyDay2Day
Twitter: Day2DayMoney

Savings Strategy for Those Living on Main Street

Here’s a comment I left on a CNN Money post about a couple who have been living on half of their income for years and tout the values of frugality. Several comments referred to those not in a financial position (lower income, greater expenses, job instability, etc.) to have the luxury of such frugality.

Some even asked for specific savings tips for those with much more meager incomes. Here is my response:

Start Small if you have to, but Start Saving.

It All Adds Up

For anyone not in the savings habit, we teach at Debt Reduction Services Inc that an “amount” is less important to begin with than just doing it regularly. If you feel that you can only spare $5 a month for your savings, do it. Even better, automate it. Three months later, once you realize you don’t miss that $5, then double it.

Try that pattern for a year, and you could potentially have $225 in savings and $40 being added to it each month. At $40/month, year 2 would see an additional $480 added.

The challenge is considering it an emergency fund, not a “deferred spending” fund as I used to in my younger days.

Is it easy? No. Is it a challenge? Of course. Is it worth it? Definitely.Best wishes!

Todd Christensen
Director of Education
www.NationalFinancialEducationCenter.org
Facebook: MoneyDay2Day
Twitter: Day2DayMoney

Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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