How to Avoid Overspending and Going into Debt on Black Friday

booksMany people look forward to Black Friday so they can cash in on those special holiday deals. But if you’re not careful and don’t have a plan, impulse spending on tempting sale items can swallow your wallet.

If you are already in a significant amount of debt and enter Black Friday blindly without a plan and budget, overspending can worsen your situation and make your debt even more unmanageable.

Have an advance game plan for Black Friday shopping in order to stay on track with intended spending. A plan will also help you avoid setting off or furthering a path of debt that could turn the upcoming year into an unhappy one.

Build Your Black Friday Budget

Itemize ahead of time: who you to plan to buy for, what you plan to purchase, where you plan to buy your items and how much each gift item will cost.

Consider what is a reasonable amount to spend on each family member and friend and whether this amount fits into your budget comfortably. If it doesn’t, rethink the gift items and the amounts you are designating for each person. Redevelop a more reasonable and practical Black Friday budget that works for you.

It is important to have a predetermined amount — and stick to it — during Black Friday shopping. This helps avoid overspending and potentially putting you in the red, and not just during the holiday season but also beyond that.

How to Avoid Overspending on Black Friday

Find the best deals by cross-comparing Black Friday shopping deals online and in mailed shopping circulars so you know which retailers are offering the items your list at the best prices. Also, look at online discounters like Groupon for any special gift-item sales and promotions and alternative gift ideas that may work better within your budget.

Always read the fine print before cashing in on a Black Friday deal, as some may require a two- or three-item minimum purchase or a mail-in rebate rather than providing an on-the-spot discount.

Bring a family member or friend with you to serve as your voice of reason in case you are tempted to purchase items beyond your Black Friday list and may exceed your shopping budget.

retro-giftsUse Alternative Payment Options

Bring only cash for the exact amount you will need to cover the items you plan on purchasing. This ensures you stick to your budget and you will avoid derailing from what you intend to spend.

Take this approach one step further by splitting up the cash according to how much you plan on spending at each store. Put each amount into a different envelope with that store’s name on it. This helps you spend only what you plan to purchase at each store, giving you a bigger safety net.

Another alternative is to use prepaid cards. Similar to cash, they will keep you from going over budget since they allow you to set an available limit. Once you hit your limit, then you know you are done with your shopping. There is no chance of going over budget as long as you set your limit to cover the exact costs of the gift items you plan on purchasing.

Store layaways are also a great way to do Black Friday shopping. By putting items on layaway, you give yourself time to think about whether you can afford the item and want to spend the money on it. It also prevents impulse buys, while you still get to take advantage of the Black Friday discount price.

Pay it forward with your gift cards. If you’ve received gift cards for birthdays or other holidays throughout the year, use them to fulfill your Black Friday holiday shopping and soften the blow on your personal finances.

Look for store reward points. When you have your gift list ready, research what stores sell the items and may offer reward points in return. You can use those points to save on future purchases.

Dealing with Budget Shortage

When Black Friday doesn’t fit into your budget:

  • Avoid dipping into your emergency fund, as this can come back to haunt you should an emergency arise around the holidays or sometime later in the future.
  • Consider a “no-spend November” for cutting back on unnecessary, nonessential purchasing for the rest of the month of November, allowing you to save for any further or last-minute holiday shopping.
  • Whatever you do, don’t stop paying your fixed monthly bills. Getting behind on bills will put you into further debt, hurt your credit score and result in late fees that will only compound whatever debt and credit problem you end up facing.
  • Pick up a side job to earn some extra cash. During the holidays, you are likely to find a part-time job at a business that needs temporary, seasonal workers. You may also consider turning a hobby or passion like baking or making crafts into a side business for some added Black Friday spending via catering or selling on places like eBay or Etsy.

Using credit cards should be a last resort; however, you may consider using one if you don’t have cash available at the moment. Only use credit if you know you’ll be able to pay the balance in full by the next billing cycle.

Leslie H. TayneAbout The Author

A 20-year award-winning consumer and business debt resolution attorney, Leslie H. Tayne is founder and managing director of Tayne Law Group, P.C., a New York-based law firm dedicated to debt management, debt resolution and bankruptcy alternatives. As a frequently sought-out financial debt expert and speaker, she regularly provides insight and strategies regarding all areas of debt including credit, mortgage, student loan and business, as well as tips for improving financial management through budgeting and money saving techniques. For more information, visit or email