Budgeting tips for Black Friday and beyond
How to keep your budget in the black on Black Friday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday loom. Shopping bargains galore will tempt us to buy, buy, buy.
You might feel the pressure to meet the needs and desires of family and friends with the perfect gifts.
The allure of sale prices can be hard to resist. The temptation to buy spontaneously when you spot a coveted item can make it even harder to say no.
Whether you are venturing out to the stores or shopping online, Cäzilia Loibl, associate professor of consumer sciences and an OSU Extension state specialist, recommends three steps to keep your budget in the black on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Step 1: Budget year-round, especially for sale spending
Set the amount of money you will spend during the sales. If you budget throughout the year and save specifically for these sales, you already know how much you have as your spending goal.
As you budget, have someone next to you who also makes financial decisions in your household, or to whom you agree to be accountable for your spending.
If you plan to charge purchases, plan for how much to spend and how you will pay it off.
Don’t just do it in your head, write it all down. A written plan helps you stick to budget goals.
If money is especially tight and making ends meet is a challenge, take advantage of a nonprofit consumer credit counseling service to go over your budget. Find a service through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or use its online monthly budget planner.
Step 2: Decide priorities, for whom you’re buying
How many purchases do you wish to make? Which are priorities or most important to you?
Assign a dollar amount limit to each purchase. How much are you willing to spend?
Again, write it all down and show it to the person to whom you are accountable.
Before you shop, consider freezing your line of credit.
Loibl said the four credit reporting agencies now perform this service for free upon request.
She has written a step-by-step blog about her own experience. Be sure to unfreeze it if you wish to do anything requiring a credit score check.
Step 3: Shop and be ready to change your plan
Take your buying plan with you.
As you shop and find an item at a different price from what you budgeted, connect with your financial partner to discuss whether to buy. Discussion helps examine the pros and cons of exceeding the budget and decide what other item(s) must have a lower budget to compensate.
Recognize that your list is never set in stone. You can and should expect to adjust it as you shop.
Refine your plan as you go. If you can, write down changes on the spot so they’re easy to see as you continue shopping.
Financial tips for year's end
Loibl offers additional tips for end-of-the-calendar-year planning. “This is perfect time to review our financial lives for the past year and plan for the new year,” she said.
She also recommends paying yourself first. “Set up an account to save something from each month’s pay,” she said, “and don’t touch it during the year.”
Loibl also shares four useful steps for end-of-the-year financial planning. She uses these resources in her research and when she teaches her undergraduate personal finance course in the College of Education and Human Ecology:
- Measure your financial well-being with a tool from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Undergo a financial tune-up with Ron Lieber of The New York Times.
- “stickK” to your financial goal with behavioral economists from Yale University. This is a commitment platform that helps you achieve your goals, financial or otherwise.
- Order your free annual credit report.
Loibl emphasizes the importance of talking about money as a family. “Including your small children,” she said, “so they learn about budgeting early. It also helps to talk about financial values with a partner. Ask: ‘What is important to us in spending and saving our money?’ ‘How much should go into retirement, an emergency fund, paying off debts and even saving for holiday gifts?’”
Find more tips for better living by the college’s human sciences faculty and OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences educators on the Live Smart Ohio blog.