Holiday shopping isn’t hard, but it’s easy to get off track. I have 4 Black Friday blunders to avoid:

  1. Buying to Save

Don’t fall into the trap of buying more than you need because you’re getting a deal. Sales like “buy one get one half-price” are some of the oldest tricks in the book. The best defense against buying to save is by making a list and sticking to it.

  1. Signing Up for Store Credit

It may seem like a good idea when a store offers you 15% off your purchase to open up a credit card- but beware! Unless you plan to pay it off every month, it could cost you! The average APR for a retail credit card is more than 23% (according to an August, 2014 study by That’s more than twice the national average of low interest credit cards (10.37%.) Those higher rates can far outweigh the one-time deal for anyone who carries a balance, which is about 40% of American households (according to the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances.)

  1. Gifting to Yourself

Nothing breaks a holiday budget like spending on yourself. It’s very tempting when you’re shopping to think “one for them… one for me.” In fact, the average shopper spends about $130 on themselves (according to the National Retail Federation). Just remember, other people are shopping for you, so every time you buy something for yourself, you’re making their job harder.

  1. Keeping Mental Tabs

A holiday budget is only as good as the paper it’s written on. When you’re writing down your budget, start with all the people you plan to shop for and the dollar amount you plan to spend. But don’t forget the other holiday expenses like postage for cards, wrapping paper, decorations and food and drinks for holiday meals. You can get a realistic picture of your holiday spending by checking out last year’s bills and receipts. On that same note, make sure you save this year’s budget worksheet, bills and receipts to get you a good start next year.

Q: Why is having a Black Friday budget so important?

A: Black Friday shoppers are expected to spend more than $400. And if you don’t put holiday shopping into your budget, where is that money coming from? You’re most likely putting the gifts on your credit cards, which is one of the worst things to do financially. A $20 gift can easily become $40 if you don’t pay those credit card bills in full each month.