Are you gearing up for the sale season? Do you have a budget for the shopping list that’s probably lying on your table? Having a budget before shopping has become quintessential, especially due to the financial impact COVID-19 has on our finances. ⭐Personal Finance ⭐Money Management

As we approach the holiday season, we’re surrounded by advertisements, hoardings and emails for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. All the buzz around these sales makes you feel as if it’s never too soon to start saving money to splurge on the big days. For some, it’s literally the biggest shopping bonanza of the year and it’s all they save for!

However, a fool and his money are soon parted. Don’t let the media hype around Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales blindside you. These sales can be a great opportunity to save some extra bucks on items of need. But if used carelessly, such expenses can burn a hole in your pocket. The ongoing employment situation owing to COVID-19 illustrates why you need to plan before you splurge.

Gone are the days when Black Friday was only limited to the Friday after Thanksgiving. Retailers are now well aware of the shopping tendencies of a buyer. They know how pumped shoppers are for this shopping extravaganza. So stores deploy loud and flashy marketing campaigns to lure even the thriftiest of spenders into superfluous spending.

Be a smart shopper and use this opportunity for what it is. This is a great chance to save money on essential items that you would anyway buy otherwise. All of us are pro-deal-grabbers. Who doesn’t love a good sale? What’s important is how you approach it. Irrespective of what you invest in, you ought to go with a plan.

In this article, we’ll learn how to plan a budget for the biggest sales of the year, in 5 easy steps.

1. Create a shopping list

Stay ahead by planning your Black Friday purchases beforehand. The first and foremost step is to research the items that you want to purchase. The idea is to make separate shopping lists – one for essential and non-essential items for yourself, and the second one for gifts for the upcoming holidays.

Shopping List 1: The first list should contain two columns. The first column will contain a list of essential items that you’re already planning on buying. The second column will basically act as a wish list. This column will contain a list of non-essential items that you wish to buy.

Shopping List 2: The second list covers forthcoming holidays and events. This list will include two columns – number of people you need to purchase gifts for and the number and type of gifts that you’re planning to buy. Perhaps add your Christmas gift list, gifts for upcoming birthdays or a wedding gift, here.

2. Review your list 

Review your shopping lists and estimate the cost of each item. Run a quick check on your browser to get an idea of what this item would cost. Most stores roll out discounted prices days before the sale. If you’re unable to find your item online, just jot down a rough estimate.

3. Do some number crunching 

Now that you’ve got a price tag for each of the items in your list, sum up the three columns, that is, add the cost of each item in the respective lists to determine the total cost. You will have three cumulative – the total cost of essential items, non-essential items and gifts.

4. Check your affordability 

Compare the total costs with the amount of money that you’ve set aside for the sales. Even if you extend the budget for your shopping spree, you need to ensure that the crunch won’t affect your monthly budget. You cannot compromise on the essentials, so weigh your options carefully. A good way to do this is by reviewing your expenditure for the month and then see how much you’re left with.

5. Allocate money for unplanned expenses

All of us have the tendency to get caught up in the heat of the moment and indulge in impulsive purchases. So it’s a good idea to allocate some money from your budget to unplanned expenditures. You can even choose a small amount of money that works for you, perhaps £50. Although, the idea of an impulse spending pot is to keep you motivated to adhere to your budget. However, try and control your temptation of tapping into the impulse spending pot. If you do end up buying an unplanned item, ensure that you stay within your budget. The purpose of adding this extra spending pot in your budget is to use it as a financial cushion, just in case you find a firecracker deal that is simply unavoidable.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals can break the bank if you buy everything without giving things a second thought. Almost 8.3 million UK adults are surviving with debt problems. Especially during this time of year, roughly 30% of adults claimed that they feel pressured to overspend when they shop the sales. This pattern leads to a surge in the number of people seeking debt advice. Last year, Money Advice Service assisted around 2.3 million citizens with debt advice during January. People often seek debt advice a few months post the Christmas season. So it is imperative that you learn to fight the pressure and spend as per your requirements, keeping in mind your financial constraints.

To make the optimum use of these sales and actually save some money, you must fight the battle with a plan. Prioritize your purchases and check if the deals are really worth it. Waiting outside the stores on a chilly morning may be an exhilarating experience, but it’s pointless if the deals aren’t worth the hype.

Moreover, seeing people shopping around without care can be intimidating. The fact of the matter is that we’re all walking differing walks of life. So, your spending capability may or may not match with that of another person. Whatever may be the case, do your best to spend within your limits for he who buys what he does not need, steals from himself.