Black Friday is coming, and your money is going, going....gone?

It's that time of year. The holidays are coming and we are just weeks away from Thanksgiving. Which means we are just weeks away from Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. In fact, you've probably already started receiving emails about early Black Friday deals.

Let me start off by saying I am NOT here to tell you not to shop the deals. What I am here to tell you, is to shop smartly.

First, make a list of everyone you are shopping for and what you'd like to get them. This helps keep you on track with what you're looking for and not get distracted by deals of things you don't need.

Next, you need to make a budget. Either decide how much you'd like to spend on someone, the max amount you want to spend or make a presents budget and divide it amongst the number of presents you have to buy to determine your amount.

I won't lie, I don't just shop the Black Friday deals for gifts for others but gifts for myself as well. If I have a few things I'm looking for, I will set an amount I want to spend and then hit the stores. I prioritize where I want to go first by the deal I want the most or the item I want the most. If I can get that item, then I subtract that amount from my budget and keep going until the money is gone. If I don't get the item, then I re-prioritize and go to the next item knowing I can get more items farther down on the list. But keep in mind if your budget is $2000 and you find a couch for $2000 that you've had your eye on, then your shopping is over because your budget is gone. However if the deal you want is gone, now you can move down to the $1500 chair or whatever items may be on your list.

To incentivize shoppers, many stores will offer a percent off with the higher percent offered to a smaller number of customers. For example, a store I love has offered 30% off to the first 5 customers, 20% off to the next 15 customers and 15% off to all customers after the codes have been used. If your favorite store is offering this, be sure to set an alarm on your phone so you don't miss your deal. In fact, set two alarms; one to remind you to get online and your computer set up and the second that the code is valid.

I love a good deal. But I have to often remind myself, just because something is on sale doesn't mean I need it. Also, there will be other sales. If you don't have the money left in your budget for something, that's okay. Catch it on the next sale and when you have replenished your budget.

Are you planning on shopping Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday?

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