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How to Financially Prepare for Your Black Friday Shopping Experience

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November 22, 2019

Black Friday is by far the most infamous holiday shopping event followed closely by Cyber Monday, depending on your preferences to spend your time — and your money. Gearing up for Black Friday usually means entering a frenzied state of panic and impulse buying, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

When faced with an opportunity to score big on some of the year’s hottest items, it’s always best to formulate a proper strategy and budget. Having a plan could make the difference between fighting off mobs of people for the things you want, and a bad wave of buyers remorse because you weren’t able to mindfully decide if a Black Friday deal was worth it or not. 

Whether you’re shopping in-store, online, or both, follow the 7 tips we’ve outlined below to help you prepare for the busy crowds and overwhelming storefronts during the most stressful shopping event of the year. 

7 shopping tips for a stress-free Black Friday and Cyber Monday 

1. Know which deals you can actually afford

Black Friday is built on the idea of luring potential customers in with deals that seem too good to pass up, but the reality is that you can and should pass some of them up. Fighting off the urge to give in to every door crasher deal you come across is a challenge. 

The first step in navigating these tricky sales is to set a strict budget and stick to it. Your budget should be based on what you can actually afford, versus what you think you can get away with. Once you have your budget locked down, you will be able to successfully determine if a last-minute deal is worth giving up something else you had planned for. 

2. Do your research to find out where the best deals are located

Every retailer will be promoting big deals on low and high-end ticket items. In order to maintain some perspective, do your research to help narrow down your options. For example, if Best Buy has a great deal on a quality TV, check out similar retailers to see if they have the same TV for less. 

You can apply this same action towards the other items on your list. Finding the stores with the best deals may also help you narrow down the location you want to shop in, so you aren’t wasting precious time shopping in different areas. 

Photo: Shopify Partners

3. Resist the urge to impulse purchase

The toughest challenge you will face on Black Friday is impulse purchasing. You may have the tightest budget and do all of the research necessary to successfully navigate the sales, but there will always be one (or two, or three… ) other deals that seems too good to be true. These impulse purchases are designed to fill you with regret — but they can definitely be avoided

It’s important to remind yourself that these flashy items are things you may want, but it’s important to remind yourself that you don’t need them. Try to remind yourself of all the other needs you could spend your money on if you avoid the potential dollars wasted on a want. 

4. Get alerts and stay up-to-date on your favourite brands and stores 

Between social media, newsletters and apps, there are numerous ways you can connect with your favourite retailers to keep your finger on the pulse of every deal imaginable. So whether you want to stay connected to all of the options available to you, or select specific brands that fit your lifestyle and values — there’s an option for you to stay connected to your favourite brands and retailers. Review the settings for any apps you download and make sure you enable notifications so you can receive up-to-the-minute alerts for savings.

5. Go to stores that participate in your credit card’s reward programs 

This advice seems like a no-brainer any time of the year but is especially true on Black Friday. Depending on your cards, you may be eligible for cashback rewards. Additionally, there are many apps available for download that will allow you to link your credit cards so you can take advantage of additional cashback rewards programs. For example, Ampli is an app that partners with major retailers like Best Buy, Endy, Dyson, The Source, and more. Review the apps online to find the one that best suits your lifestyle. 

Photo: Clay Banks

6. Understand return policies and fees associated with purchases  

You may go into Black Friday or Cyber Monday thinking there are no repercussions if you buy now and decide later, but that isn’t always the case. More often than not, Black Friday deals will come with a stipulation that you can’t return items within a specific time period or perhaps not at all. Read the fine print or ask the experts what the rules are when it comes to returns. Additionally, ensure you secure a gift receipt with each purchase.

7. Take a moment to reflect on the purchases you made

The hustle and bustle of a good sale (especially the deals associated with Black Friday) can often overstimulate your mind and your wallet, so it’s understandable if mindful spending isn’t top of mind. In those cases, it helps to lean on an app such as Wellspent, which encourages you to reflect on transactions after you’ve made them. The learnings you can pull from your spending behaviours could serve you well in future spending.

Download the Wellspent app and learn how to spend better during the holiday season


This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change.  No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.