Ah, Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving. The biggest shopping day of the year.
Last year on Black Friday, my sister-in-law and I went out, braved the crowds, and had a BLAST. It was sister bonding time at it’s finest. It was particularly memorable because it was the first time I’d ever gone out shopping on Black Friday. I was totally fascinated + amused by this phenomenon that I’d always heard about but never witnessed. So I was into it.
I loved the annoying stuff — like how long it took to find a parking spot + the insanely long lines at the checkout + the fact that I couldn’t go 10 steps without bumping into someone. I was having the time of my life with my sis, just observing the madness.
One problem: I didn’t have a plan.
I thought, “Meh, if I find something I like I might get it.”
Here’s what I forgot: Retailers spend millions of dollars researching people — people like you and me — figuring out our buying habits, figuring out how to keep us in the store for a few more minutes, figuring out how to get us to part with our money.
It’s scary brilliant.
And it worked.
I found a little something here. A little something there. And before I knew it, I had turned from amused observer into ransacking consumer. Before I even unloaded my shopping bags at home, I knew I’d made impulse buys that were totally unnecessary and uncharacteristic.
But … it wasn’t all bad. That shopping trip ended up being the reason I started a capsule wardrobe, a few weeks later. And, honestly? Those memories of shopping with my sis are some of my favorite ever.
Do I think Black Friday is evil? No. Do I think marketing ploys are horrible? No.
There will always be schemes out there designed to distract us.
It’s up to us to be savvy.
So, if you’re hitting the stores next week, here are three of my best tips to make sure Black Friday doesn’t get the best of you:
1. Preload a Visa gift card so you stick to your budget. You can pick one up at Best Buy or Target and you can use them just about anywhere. Use only your gift card to buy stuff — you’ll remove the temptation to overspend. And if you want to take it one step further, consider leaving your other debit + credit cards at home. You might miss out on some stuff — but you’ll score a major personal win by sticking to your budget.
2. Make a list and stick to it to avoid impulse buys. And a real list (on paper or on your phone) is even more powerful than a list in your head.
3. Heighten your awareness. Read a few articles — like this, this, or this — to refresh yourself on marketing tactics before you go. Simply knowing these tactics exist can loosen their grip on you. And! (Nerd alert) You could even make it into a game — see how many marketing ploys you can spot while you’re shopping. Maybe I should make up a marketing ploy bingo board we can all … nope, never mind, okay.
Got any more tips? Share away!