Black Friday: 5 spending mistakes to avoid

From momentum spending to FOMO, it’s easy to get swept up in a sale frenzy.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2023 are coming on November 24 and 27 this year.

With experts predicting retailers could be offering even bigger discounts this year in an attempt to entice shoppers to spend, it’s important not to let the hype take over your decision making.

Here are five hot mistakes to avoid this Black Friday to keep your spending in check.

Compilation image of money with Black Friday written over the top
Black Friday is just over three weeks away. (Source: Getty) (Samantha Menzies)

1. Looking for stuff to buy

When hot sale seasons strike, it’s tempting to go looking for good deals to be part of the moment. It can feel like we’re missing out on an opportunity if we don’t get in on the sales frenzy. If you don’t need anything, don’t scroll just for the sake of it.

2. Getting caught up in urgency

The timed nature of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales can mean we’re operating from an emotionally heightened state. Knowing we only have a short window of time to get in on a special offer can leave us making decisions based on time pressure rather than objective need or desire.

It helps to remind yourself that, generally, special offers do come around again and that the urgency to buy is just a tactic to get you to spend more. If your main motivator for making a purchase is because it’s too good a deal to miss, you probably don’t really want or need it that much.

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3. Falling for inflated discounts

A common Black Friday spending trap is falling for deals that aren’t as good as they look at first glance. Some retailers inflate the original RRP (recommended retail price) when advertising discounts to make the markdown look more attractive to buyers.

We need to be smart when it comes to assessing how good a deal we’re getting. Check the price of items you want to buy before the Black Friday specials hit so you don’t get pressured into buying based on inflated percentage discounts.

4. Giving into FOMO

As our social media feeds fill with people sharing their Black Friday spoils, it’s essential to set your Black Friday game plan ahead of time so that you don’t fall victim to FOMO (fear of missing out) and buy things for the sake of it.

But Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be a great chance to get a discount on things you were going to buy anyway, especially with Christmas just around the corner. List out things you need to buy, and stick to the list when you go browsing. Searching by item can help avoid the temptation that comes from mindless scrolling, and helps you behave much more rationally around the bright colours and special-offer messaging of the weekend.

5. Engaging in momentum spending

It’s the financial equivalent of opening a packet of TimTams and finishing the whole thing. Momentum spending happens when we hop onto the Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales to get one or two things, and the very act of buying those things leads to another purchase, and another and another.

To avoid this trap, make sure you’re very conscious about your purchase decisions during these sales periods. If you find yourself suddenly considering buying things you hadn’t even looked at before, or you notice your predefined spending boundaries are weakening, stop scrolling and focus on something else. Being able to redirect our focus away from browsing can be an incredibly powerful way to intercept this momentum behaviour.

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