Shop smart: 5 top tips to help you save and avoid overspending on Black Friday

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It's easy to get caught up in the excitement but now's actually the time to do your homework on discounts, says expert.
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement but now's actually the time to do your homework on discounts, says expert.
Igor Alecsander/Getty

Black Friday is one big, fat scam, some people say. An item is marked "20% off" and so you rush to swipe your credit card for it, thinking it's a steal.

But when you pass the display window of the same shop a week later, you realise to your dismay the 20% is actually the item's normal price.

For many South Africans, however, Black Friday is a chance to buy items such as washing machines, fridges or dishwashers for which they have been saving all year.

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While it’s true that some unscrupulous people take advantage of the spending surge that happens around this time of the year – by marking down prices at nominal discounts and calling it a sale or stealing credit card information online – with careful planning and research, you can actually make some wise purchases and shop smart on Black Friday.

Here are five tips from a financial education expert to help you avoid falling for scams or overspending.

Don't fall for ‘fake’ discounts

“Sometimes we are lured by the excitement as well as the appealing marketing and therefore tempted to buy goods simply because we are told that the prices have been reduced,” says Dhashni Naidoo.

“However, it’s important to understand whether there has been any substantial reduction in the price of the item you wish to buy.

“The easiest way to determine if there has been a decrease is to track the price over a period of time.”  

Set a spending limit and stick to it

Plan your budget in advance and be honest with yourself on what you can afford.  Avoid spending funds you did not budget for.

Failing to prepare is planning to fail

Do your research ahead of time – you need to know exactly what you want to buy and determine the price of those goods upfront.

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Use this time to compare and understand the current price of the item you need, so that you can establish if the discounted price you see on Black Friday is favourable.

Buy only what you need and not because something is on sale.  

Swipe your credit card for what matters

Don’t use debt to buy non-essential or luxury goods. Consumers should also remember that credit incurs interest. 

Avoid using your rainy day savings

If you’re tapping into your long-term savings or emergency saving funds, this also suggests that you may not afford to be spending on Black Friday.

“Do not be tempted to spend excessively,” the FNB Consumer Education Programme Manager adds, “and if you have a list of what you want to buy and a budget, stick to it.” 

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