Friday, 28 November 2014

Beware Black Friday

It's that time of year. The holiday season is closing in quickly - children are busily writing out wish lists, Santa's at the mall waiting to hear their heart's desires, and parents are frantically searching out sales and deals and driving all over town to line up for the hottest limited edition new release special feature must-have toy.

Though this weekend has no significance for us in Canada, the infiltration of big box American retailers have brought Black Friday deals across the border in the last few years and the American Thanksgiving weekend has become the official beginning of Christmas shopping season all across North America. For weeks our mailboxes and newspaper deliveries have been stuffed with flyers and catalogues, our email inboxes inundated with online offers, television and radio ads flooding the airwaves and screaming at us to Buy Now! Save!

And there are some amazing deals to be had. But the temptation of such enormous savings can be so tantalizing we lose focus on our budget in a frenzy of spending.

A new tablet for yourself at forty percent off isn't saving you anything if you didn't need it in the first place. A "buy one get one half off" video game purchase for your nephew isn't a budget-friendly choice if you weren't planning to buy more than one video game to begin with. That deep-discounted Fisher Price play set so inexpensive you can't not get it, those princess pyjamas for less than half price, the full set of action figures for the same price a single one was just last week - if they weren't on your list in the first place, if they weren't a part of your planned spending, then they just aren't saving you any money.
A good deal doesn't mean savings unless you're actually spending less money, no matter how good the deal may be.

Before heading out to hit those Black Friday sales make sure you have a plan. If it's holiday shopping you're hoping to cross off your list, make a list: Who are you buying for, what are you buying for each of them, and what is your budget for each gift? Research what you're buying ahead of time so you know which deals are actually good deals.

And once you're out there negotiating for parking spots and navigating the hordes to get your hands on the toy your little one's been wishing for since the summer don't lose sight of that list. A plan with a budget will save your bottom line on this crazy Black Friday weekend.

Originally published as "Beware Black Friday" on my weekly column at

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