Black Friday budgeting – is that an oxymoron, or what?
But budgeting any time of the year is a skillset that requires brainpower and discipline. And it’s always harder to implement and stick to around this time of year. Black Friday 2022 deals are just too good to miss and Christmas is just around the corner, so what’s person to do, right? Make a list, check it twice, buy equal parts things you need and things you want. And think carefully about the longevity of each purchase.
If you’re thinking that’s easier said than done, coming up is a foolproof 6-step system to smarter Black Friday 2022 shopping that respects your cash flow and scratches that “give me a deal!” itch we’re all feeling. But first …
A little bit of need, a little bit of want
This is your logical brain speaking. You know, your reason-based frontal lobe that dampens emotional reactions and impulsive “add to cart” decisions (you know you make ‘em, we all do). But this is time of year when you need to lean in on your rational brain to fight back against poor purchase decisions. Like the plushy chair you’ve been dreaming about that turns out to be toddler-size. Or the perfect “over-sized” sweater that looks like it was made for your 8-year-old daughter (what size are these models, anyway?).
Beware: Now is when needs and wants begin to blend, just like Black Friday 2022 bleeds right into the holiday season. In the next 2 months, you’ll need to fulfill at least some of your kids’ Christmas list to Santa. You’ll need to host a dinner party or two. You’ll need to pitch into Secret Santa office pools and pay for save rides home from holiday parties, and you’ll still need to keep the mortgage paid, the family fed, and the house clean.
And then you have wants. You want to see your kids excited on Christmas morning. You want to put on a delicious feast or great party, and have a clean, festive home to do it in. And you want to treat yourself, too – and you should. Self-care is usually put in the “want” bucket when it’s really a need. See? Everything starts to blend. Here’s how to sort out your needs and wants and make better buying decisions that will continue to feed you benefits over time.
1. Make a “if money didn’t exist” dream list
Forget money for a sec. Just let yourself dream. Because it’s healthy to let your mind wander and dream, both to feel good in Imagination-land, and so you can mentally let go of the things you likely won’t be able or honestly willing to purchase. It’s the same rationale as talking through a tough feeling or problem; simply by expressing it outwardly, your brain can stop ruminating on it inwardly. So let that happen, as silly as it might seem in the moment. Then, put your list away and sleep on it.
2. Set a budget
This is a separate exercise to your dream list. Try to take the idea of buying anything off the table and focus instead on your current budget. Don’t think about you can and can’t afford as you make your budget – this step is a purely functional exercise to understand your available cash flow and how much you can reasonably spend during Black Friday 2022 sales.
3. Separate your needs and wants
You just saw a great deal on a big, beautiful TV. The TV you have is perfectly fine, but this one is better and it’s on sale. Welcome to a classic case of sticker-shine, where your want tries its best to overshadow your need (or lack thereof). Every list has its fair share of needs and wants, and your job at this point is simple to put a “W” next to pure wants and “N” next to the needs. This doesn’t have to fall into the drastic “food and shelter” basics of needs versus wants because that’s not going to play with the idea of Black Friday. If you’re running out of something that you always use, consider that a need. If what you have is still a perfectly good item but there’s a deal on something just a little better, call it a want.
4. Identify which items are goods, and which are services
A smart Black Friday list has both goods and services, because it’s so easy to fill those digital carts with things. While things are great, the effect is fleeting. They break. They get lost. They wear out, or they don’t do what you hoped they would. Your purchases should serve a larger purpose than simply fulfilling an immediate desire. Remember that spending on services continues to give back over time. For this exercise, label retail items as “G” and services as “S”.
5. Assess and prioritize
Look at your list item by item and assess its priority level as a standalone item. Think about the longevity of the item – how long will this item continue to pay you back over time? What is its positive impact on your life? Is this a single-use item or something that requires continuous investment (like a new Keurig machine that you’ll need to keep buying new pods for, for example). Is it an item you will use often, like a gaming system? Or is it a service that you pay for once but keeps going throughout the year, like a home cleaning service or meal kit service? You can use a ranking system for this, or you can rate each item on a scale of 1 to 10.
6. Re-write an edited Black Friday 2022 list
It’s time for a balancing act to make sure your list covers needs, wants, goods, and services. Start by crossing off items that are:
- Low priority
- Outside of your budget
- Dependent on continuous investment that doesn’t fit within your monthly budget
Then write a new master Black Friday 2022 shopping list you can be confident in. It’s hard, yes. But it’s also smart shopping.
One last smart checklist tip
It’s shopping time! Enjoy the ride and tackle your list however you see fit. If you’re looking for suggestions, start by stocking up on sale items you use regularly (like refills with your favourite make-up brand) and one-off purchases like items on your kids’ Christmas list. Then switch your search to services that can serve you year-round. Make-life-easier ideas for your smarter Black Friday shopping list are services like at-home cooking kits and home cleaning services, which can both save you incalculable time, energy, and right now, money too.