After spending Thanksgiving with your family and friends, the next immediate “holiday” on everyone’s mind is Black Friday. Since 2006, Black Friday has been recorded as the busiest shopping day of the year.

Black Friday has been around since the early 1950s, marking the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season with incredible deals. The informal term for this day refers to the old accounting practice where negative amounts were shown in red ink, while profits were recorded in black. During the holiday season, most retailers begin making their revenue right after Thanksgiving Day, pushing their finances out of “the red.” 

The day after Thanksgiving gives you the perfect opportunity to buy the latest gadgets and Christmas gifts. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, you will most likely see minimized crowds and less in-store deals. Shipping delays are another thing to expect as more people will be shopping online. 

However, online shopping can prove to be even more dangerous for your wallet that going in-person with easy one-click buys. It is easy to mindlessly spend money on great sales and blow your paycheck on unnecessary expenses. 

So how can you avoid overspending this Black Friday weekend? Here are a few tips to get you started. 

Do the research. The first step to avoid overspending is to do your research before shopping. Browse through the deals being offered and figure out which items you want or need to buy. It gives you some time to compare deals from different retailers as well so you can find the lowest prices. There are websites that can help you compare prices in preparation for Black Friday: 

  • RetailMeNot
  • DealNews
  • Rakuten
  • Slickdeals
  • Digital Trends (for gadgets)

Set a spending limit. Creating a budget for yourself is always a helpful way to avoid mindless spending. Having a spending limit will make you more thoughtful and selective about what you need to purchase so you don’t break the bank chasing after sales. Another way to limit your spending if you are going to stores in-person is by using cash. Cash allows you to physically see how much money you are spending and, once it’s gone, limits you from buying more. 

Know who is on your gifting list. Black Friday is a great time to buy early holiday gifts for friends and family, but in the madness of the season, you can end up buying things you don’t actually want to give. Before shopping, make a list of who you plan to give gifts to and think of what you want to buy for them. 

Make a list beforehand and stick to it. Once you know who you’re planning on shopping for, the next step is to know what to purchase for them. Sale items can entice you in the moment and lead to impulse buys. In order to avoid impulsive spending, write down the items and deals you need to purchase. Once you have your complete list, the most important thing is to stick to it! It will help you stay focused on your shopping game plan rather than getting sucked into impulsive purchases. 

Use one credit card to shop. Spreading out purchases on different credit cards can make you feel like you spent less, when in reality you could be spending much more than you realize. When it comes to online shopping, you may not even be aware of how quickly your purchases can add up even if they are on sale. The easiest way to track your virtual spending is by using only one card to make purchases. With one card, you can see how much you spent in total and keep yourself from buying too much. It also allows you to monitor for fraudulent activity. Using multiple cards can make it more difficult for you to keep track. 

Don’t spend extra for shipping. One of the ways retailers get you to spend more money is by adding shipping costs to cheaper items. Make sure you compare shipping fees between different stores to get the best deal possible. You can also opt to pick up your purchase in-store or curbside rather than getting it delivered to avoid the extra cost. Shipping fees may seem convenient and inexpensive, but they can add up quickly. 

Keep an eye out for hidden fees. With every deal, there may be some strings attached. Some sales may only be triggered if you buy two or three of the same item, while others may come with an extra fee for warranty or a paid subscription. With other items such as phones or laptops, the item may be on sale, but the accessories you need in addition could be full price. Shop carefully and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before making your purchases. 

If you spend mindfully, Black Friday can be an excellent time to buy the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Stay safe, and happy shopping!