I LOVE sales!  I’m sure most women can’t resist a 50% off sticker. Recently, though, I’ve started questioning how valid these “sales” really are.  Are we REALLY getting a good deal?  Has the price REALLY been marked down?

In South Africa, we’ve had a number of high profile fashion retailers hike prices in the past, only to “discount” them when Black Friday arrives.  And because Black Friday causes a bit of a frenzy amongst shoppers, people buy these items without looking, without thinking and without realising that there is absolutely no difference in price.

This all got me thinking about the things that people buy – are they really worth it?  Sure, if you’re a mom to a baby, the 50% off diapers is ABSOLUTELY worth every cent, but do people really need a 69 inch LED smart TV when they are barely earning enough to pay debt?

I know that retailers need to make money in order to be profitable – the problem that I have with Black Friday is that retailers often take advantage of shoppers who don’t know any better.  This smells of an ethics problem to me.

To make sure that you don’t get caught out this Black Friday, I’ve listed a few absolutely VALUABLE pointers for these crazy sales that will help you to make the right decisions to prevent you from ending up with stuff that you don’t need, spending money that you don’t actually have.

  1. DON’T BUY ON CREDIT

As tempting as it may be to buy, buy, buy, the result is that you will eventually have to pay it all back.  If you’re saving 20% on a TV, but the interest on your credit card is 21.5% – are you REALLY saving anything?  Any purchases on credit need to be evaluated carefully, because the cost of credit could far exceed what the item is actually worth.  Be smart – decide if you really need the item, and for the love of all things good – DON’T buy your groceries on credit either.

  1. HUNT FOR REAL DEALS

If you’re looking at buying big ticket items, make sure you compare prices across multiple retailers.  Remember online retailers too, as some of them allow you to buy using eBucks.  This translates into even bigger savings.  For clothing and groceries, make sure you know what the normal prices of things are before buying.  Many retailers mark items as a Black Friday deal, but it’s actually priced normally.

  1. GO WITH A PLAN

The best way to approach any Black Friday sale is with a plan – make sure you know what you want, and where you will get it.  DON’T deviate from the plan, and make sure you carry the listed specials with you.  It’s always great to compare the price that you saw in the newspaper to what is actually listed.

  1. DO PRICE CHECKS AT THE CHECKOUT

Sometimes the prices aren’t updated on the system for Black Friday, so you might think your goods are scanning at the discounted price, when in fact it’s ringing up at the normal price.  Keep an eye on this and dispute any price differences then and there.  They will correct them quickly.  The last thing you want to do is get home and realise that you have been overcharged.

  1. KEEP YOUR COOL

The stores are bound to be packed with crowds of people who are there doing exactly the same thing you are – looking for a good deal.  Make sure you practice patience, and kindness in store, because people can get VERY riled up over discounted items.  I’ve heard stories of women bashing each other with packs of diapers because someone took the last “one” on the shelf.  It can get scary, so get in and out as quickly as you can – and try and do it with a smile.

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