Black Friday need not be bleak if consumers make, follow a shopping planIt’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unless you’re flat broke. However, there are ways Arkansans can maintain their budgets, traditions and sanity while shopping for gifts, food and décor.
LITTLE ROCK – It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unless you’re flat broke.
However, there are ways Arkansans can maintain their budgets, traditions and sanity while shopping for gifts, food and décor.
“The most important thing a shopper can do is make a plan and stick to it," said Laura Connerly, assistant professor of family and consumer science at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. “That means know who you are shopping for, what items you need and how much you have to spend.”
Do your pricing homework
Connerly says the key to getting the most out of shopping on Black Friday is to do research. It’s important to know the prices of items before going to shopping to determine if a sale really is a bargain.
“Let’s say you want to get a television,” Connerly says. “You see in all the Black Friday sale ads that televisions are available at what seem to be really discounted prices. What you need to know to be sure you are actually getting a bargain is the regular price of the TV you are looking at purchasing, the brand you want as well as all the features you’d like, and the reviews of the item to ensure it is a quality product.
“If you don’t do your research, what you may find is the television that’s on sale isn’t the same quality of the one you have in mind, has none of the same features and isn’t really a bargain for the money being advertised,” Connerly said.
Cost vs. benefit
Another factor to keep in mind is to do a cost/benefit analysis of the items you have in mind to purchase on Black Friday.
“A lot of retail outlets have a limited quantity of a sale item, or other items may only be on sale at a specific time, like midnight or 5 a.m.,” Connerly said. “You have to decide if getting up and being at a store at that time is worth the savings. What will you do if the store sells out of the particular item you are there to purchase? Do you know if the store will offer a rain check or a price match, or will you just be out of luck? Those are all things you have to consider in addition to doing your research.”
Connerly also recommends setting a spending limit and deciding how you will pay for purchases.
“The law states that consumers are only personally liable for no more than the first $50 of fraudulent charges on a credit card,” she said. “According to the Federal Trade Commission, if your credit card is lost, stolen or used without your permission, you can be responsible for up to $50. If you report the loss before the card is used, you're not responsible for any unauthorized charges. But if a thief uses your card before you report it missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges is $50. If the thief uses your card number, but not your card, you are not responsible for the unauthorized charges."
Get a gift receipt
The final tip Connerly suggest for making the most of Black Friday is to get a gift receipt as well as an itemized receipt, which can be compared against a checking or credit card statement.
“The gift receipts you can give with each present so if the person you are giving the gift to can return it without having your actual receipt,” she said. “The itemized receipts can be compared against your bank statements to ensure a few things: you got the item at the price you wanted, there aren’t charges you aren’t aware of, and you know how much you saved.”
For more information about how to save money during the holidays, visit extension's Web site, www.uaex.edu, or contact your county extension agent.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Kelli Reep
For the Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service