The holidays are supposed to be a time to kick back and relax, but dealing with one of the busiest travel days of the year and cooking a feast for the family can make Thanksgiving stressful.
And it doesn’t end on Thursday evening. Just as you clean the last dirty dish and put away your leftover turkey, there’s a whole other stress to deal with: Black Friday (and Cyber Monday).
While it’s a great day to score some deals and get a jump-start on holiday shopping, it can also be overwhelming and leave you feeling out of control when it comes to spending. That’s why TODAY reached out to Ash Exantus, a financial coach at BankMobile, to get tips on how to make sure your family and your wallet are happy this season — plus one easy way to give back to the community.
1. Make sure you can afford it.
There are many people who are living paycheck to paycheck who can't afford to pay their basic necessities comfortably but still figure out a way to go shopping on Black Friday. Don't! Make sure that if you are going shopping on Black Friday that you are not behind on any bills and you are not using your credit cards to finance your splurging.
2. Use a list.
Now that you know that you can afford to spend on Black Friday it is important that you go in with a plan of what you are going to buy. What do you need? What do you really want? Write them down so you know what you are aiming for. Black Friday will have many deals including that 75 percent off of _______________ (insert the name of something you'll probably never use). But, the key is to stick to your list because any money spent on something you didn't really want or need becomes money wasted no matter how much you think you're saving
3. Set a hard budget.
Before you even begin shopping figure out a set amount that you can spend and stick to that amount no matter what. No if, ands or buts! Setting a budget will allow you to not go into debt on Black Friday.
4. Use cash.
Despite your preparation there will be many tempting deals that may cause you to go temporarily insane and with access to money at your fingertips that can be a dangerous blow to your finances. Keeping your cards at home and using cash removes the ability to fold to temptations.
5. Set your kids’ expectations.
Kids can be a very big drain to your finances especially during the holiday season. It is important that you set their expectations early on so that they are not disappointed about the gifts nor do you feel guilty for not giving them what they want. Letting them know where you stand financially will be an important part of making sure that they are satisfied.
6. Give your kids a budget.
Giving your child a budget is a great way to help set expectations if they know how much you're willing to spend they will ask for gifts that are within that price range. If you leave it open they will use their wildest imaginations to ask for gifts.
7. Get your kids involved.
Getting your children involved in the whole gift buying process will give them an idea as to what you can afford and not afford. Let them know how many other gifts you are buying for others will make them less likely to be selfish and asked for the most expensive things.
8. Skip Black Friday.
While Exantus’ tips above are super helpful for navigating the treacherous store aisles, there are some other options like skipping Black Friday all together. You read that right. One company, REI, is actually encouraging people to stay out of their stories and instead spend the precious day off outside. Their #OptOutside campaign is in full force again this year and their website makes it easy to find local spots to go hiking, skiing, biking and more rather than waiting on line.
9. Give to charity.
We know about Black Friday and the newer Cyber Monday for shopping days, but there is one other day that will make you feel good about your purchases: #GivingTuesday. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities are encouraged to support causes they believe in. Whether it is raising money for local nonprofits, running food and clothing drives, teaching children about philanthropy, or encouraging acts of kindness, the day is all about giving back.
Need some help figuring out where to donate? In honor of #GivingTuesday, Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced they will contribute up to $1 million to a variety of fundraisers on the social media platform. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match up to $1,000 per Facebook fundraiser, donating a total of $500,000. Facebook will waive up to $500,000 of fees on all donations to make sure the money is going directly to the cause.
The initiative will go live for Facebook users in the U.S. starting Tuesday, the organization announced at their Social Good Forum last week.