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Do you enjoy holiday shopping but fear it at the same time? It can often seem like holiday shopping is the quickest way to defeat the budget you’ve kept the whole year. And now that Black Friday is starting a day early, it may feel even more like the holidays are working against you. So what can you do about it? How can you take part in the fun of Black Friday while still sticking to your budget? Here are a few ideas that may help.

Make a List — and Stick to It

Just like grocery shopping, if you go to the mall on Black Friday without a list you could lose your way fast. With all the deals out there, anyone could easily blow their budget before they’ve even left the first store. Prepare yourself days before to keep things in control. Make a list of the people you want to buy for, what you hope to buy for them, and the advertised prices you see online or on flyers. Write it out and even take a picture of the list with your phone if you can. That way you can get what you need without becoming overwhelmed by the sensory overload that’s waiting for you.

Avoid Impulse Buys

You may be thinking that sticking to a list takes all the fun out of Black Friday. But you can enjoy the first day of holiday music, decorations, and general festivity all while sticking to your plan. And what if you find something you really, really want for yourself? Don’t buy it — write it down. If you make note of your own personal wishlist as you shop, then you can go home and add each item to an Amazon wishlist and then share it with your loved ones. This will help you avoid impulse buys and give your loved ones a chance to buy you gifts that they know you’ll love. Extra bonus — creating this Amazon list allows you to see if you really want all the items you took note of once you’re away from the sale signs and shiny objects. Remember, money spent on items you won’t use is never a good deal.

Don’t Give into Peer Pressure

Afraid you’ll miss out on the deal? Don’t be. There’s a reason Black Friday exists — and it’s not to save you money. Retailers know that putting “limited time only” on an item is the easiest way to trick people into buying it, even if it’s something they were planning on waiting on or avoiding buying altogether. So when you see people tripping over each other to get to something, don’t become part of the mob. Whatever it is, you’ll be able to find it later and, honestly, it’ll probably be cheaper online. Even if it’s not online, retailers will put everything on sale again, most likely right before and after the holiday to get rid of overstocked items. By not getting swept up in the excitement, you can avoid impulse buys and buyer’s remorse.

Use Trade-Offs

What if you’re sticking to your list but suddenly see a gift for someone that is way better than what you intended buy? Trade it off. If you’ve already bought the other item, return it immediately after you purchase the new one. If you haven’t yet bought the original gift, get the new one and immediately scratch the original gift off your list. In the excitement of the holidays it’s easy to be overly generous to your loved ones, but breaking your budget doesn’t help you or them. So if you find something better, go for it! Just don’t buy both.

Make Extra Money to Help Pay for Gifts

If you are still worried that you won’t be able to save enough for your holiday gift purchases, or perhaps you want to pay off credit card debt first before spending more money, then it might be a good time to earn a little extra income. In that case, look around and see if you have any extra items lying around your house (or in storage) that you don’t need anymore. If so, you can make money on ebay by selling those items. And if you have some free time before the holidays, you can try some of these other ideas to make extra money from home. Hopefully this can help ease your finances at the most opportune time of year!

You’ll hear this now and a hundred times before the end of the year — but the holidays are supposed to be about festivity, cheer and spending time with your loved ones. As fun as holiday shopping is, don’t derail everything you’ve worked for all year just for material things. What’s really important can’t be bought.

Image: David Porter, via Flickr

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