Looking to make some big purchases on Black Friday? With deep discounts on everything from HDTVs to computers, you can definitely find great deals on the shopping holiday.
But before you take advantage of slashed prices by making a major purchase, make sure you have cash in the bank so that you don’t have to dig into your emergency fund.
Here are some tips on how to cut your spending to build up some funds for your Black Friday shopping trip:
Don’t Need It? Don’t Buy It
Stick to basics, like food, household supplies, transportation costs and bills. Ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” If it isn’t essential to your life, skip it.
You don’t need to go clothes shopping, buy that cool new gadget that just came out or purchase more songs on iTunes. And remember: Even little expenses count. You can do without that pack of gum or chocolate bar. Make your daily coffee at home instead of stopping by Starbucks, and the dollars you save each day will add up.
Stay in rather than eating out. Invite your friends over to watch your favorite flicks on the couch instead of going to the movies. If you drive, cut down on long trips. Drive only to places you really have to go to, like work or school, and choose nearby stores whenever possible.
Stick to a Plan
Write a budget. Consider all your expenses over the past few months and prioritize them. Are they essential, optional or somewhere in between? Calculate how much you spend in each area and identify where you can make cuts.
Make lists. Keep a list on the fridge or your door and write down important items you’re missing, whether they’re groceries or household supplies. Before you go to the store, look over your list, make sure it has everything you need and nothing extra, and only then head to the store.
Once there, stick to your list. Your favorite ice cream may be on sale, but do you really need it? If it’s not essential, skip it. You can always eat ice cream another time, but if you don’t have the savings to get that large-screen TV you’ve been dreaming of on Black Friday, you’re unlikely to find it at such a record-low price again.
When shopping, calculate your expenses as you go, instead of being surprised at the cash register. Keep your spending within the budget you’ve set for yourself.
Check Ads and Collect Coupons
Mailbox filled with junk mail? Don’t throw it out just yet!
Check the prices at nearby stores before you leave the house. If you don’t get weekly ads in the mail, you can check them online.
Compare the prices of various items at the stores in your area and devise a plan of attack to get the best deals for each product. Grab a pair of scissors and clip coupons before you leave, and don’t forget to check the Internet for coupons you can print out at home.
Cut Down on Your Utilities
Utilities take a chunk out of your expenses, so find ways to cut down on how much you spend on electricity, water and gas.
If you’ve got curtains or blinds, open them instead of turning on the light in the middle of the day. At night, turn lights off as soon as you leave the room. Those minutes you spend in another room add up, especially if you get distracted and don’t return for half an hour.
Staying up late to work on your computer? Keep a small desk lamp on instead of lighting up the entire room. Remember to unplug devices from the wall unless you’re actually using them. Not charging your phone? Don’t leave it plugged into the outlet. Hook up your TV or desktop computer to a power strip and turn the whole thing off when not in use.
When it comes to saving water, turn off the tap while you brush teeth or shave. Time yourself in the shower to keep your water usage low. As nice as it may feel to stand under a hot shower, there’s no need to run the water while you’re soaping up or shampooing your hair.
When the weather gets chilly, throw on some warm socks and extra layers instead of turning up the thermostat. You don’t need to keep your room toasty warm when you sleep. Research shows that people actually sleep better in a slightly cooler environment, and if you throw some extra blankets on your bed you’ll warm right up.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated in your quest to save, remind yourself of your goal. Print out a picture of the laptop or new couch you’ve been eyeing and put it in a prominent place – like on the fridge or even in the picture holder of your wallet. You’ll be reminded of what you’re saving for, knowing that when Black Friday comes, your sacrifices won’t have been for naught.
And who knows – after Black Friday comes and goes and you’ve felt the satisfaction of meeting your goal, maybe your thrifty tricks will become habit, and you’ll start seeing your savings grow year round.
Written by Melinda Szell
Piggy bank image via Shutterstock