Cents and Sensibility

Beware of Black Friday Blunders

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Get ready.  The biggest shopping weekend of the year is swiftly approaching. Last year, consumers spent $59.1 billion during the Black Friday weekend. But before you stand in the long lines, check out the five biggest Black Friday blunders to avoid.

1. Saying “yes” to store financing.

Be careful using in-store financing. Store financing has fees and interest rates involved, so try to save to money and spend cash for the items. Some companies offer no fees or interest rates for 12 months. This is a good deal, but ONLY if you are able to pay off the full balance before the 12-month period has ended. If you know that you are going to wait until the last month to pay the amount and may end up stuck with the fees and interest rate, stay away from this tactic altogether.

2. Buying from a store that does not accept returns. 

If you can’t return it, don’t buy it. Give your money only to a business that will give your money back if you decide against the merchandise later.  Many stores give you at least a week to bring items back.

3.  Not researching whether shopping online is better.

If you wish to avoid the holiday crowds, traffic, and long lines, shop from the comfort of your own home. You may even have more choices, so check first. Many online distributors offer savings coupons, instant rebates and free shipping at holiday time.

4. Falling for the hype.

Make sure to stick to the game-day plan. Know what you need beforehand and know how much you can afford to spend.

5. Overspending.

If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Enough said!

Bottom line: Being well prepared for this holiday shopping binge can save not only money, but time and frustration.  You don’t want to leave with a full basket and an empty bank account.

About Dr. Karen Ratliff

Credit: Dr. Karen Ratliff

Dr. Ratliff is a certified life coach and professional educator, assisting many people in accomplishing financial, career, and educational goals.  She is also the author of “Tightening Your Bootstraps: 104 Tips to Kick Your Debt to the Curb Now.” Keep up with her budgetary advice via Twitter @drkarenratliff and her website at