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Top Tips

Managing your money and mental health on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a time when many retailers offer discounts and deals which on the face of it seems a wonderful opportunity. Unfortunately, Black Friday and Cyber Monday encourage us to spend money on things we perhaps can't afford and also don't really need.

Set against a backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, Black Friday and Cyber Monday may seem really appealing this year as we look to make savings and cut costs. However, if you are buying items you don't actually need then you are not making a saving. Whilst spending money can fill a void or need but when you spend money you don't have it can have an adverse impact on your mental health. 

Both sale events encourage spending and whilst you might search for a great deal you might be in danger of spending more than you have planned. This can leave you in debt and impact your long-term mental health and finances.

The steps below will help you to manage your spending during sale events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

The fear of missing out

Periods of poor mental health can add stress when shopping and contribute to you making poor financial decisions. Black Friday is a day which can cause extra stress and can often be accompanied by:

  • Impulsive decision making.
  • Worry about the future.
  • Anxiety.

Because Black Friday is only for a limited time, this can push you to make purchases motivated by fear; a fear of missing a great deal.

Case study: How Casey controls her spending

Casey has bipolar disorder. It can affect her mood and she experiences periods of mania and depression.

When Casey has an episode of mania, she moves very quickly from one topic to another and becomes filled with new ideas.

She also gets very impulsive and can spend vast sums of money online before realising she can't afford the items she is buying.

Casey and her partner sit down every November to make a black Friday budget.

They also lock away all of Casey's credit cards. This helps Casey remember how much money she can spend and prevents her from overspending.

We have several tips to help you manage your mental health and money this Black Friday.

1: Prioritise your expenses first

Before you spend anything, make sure you have enough money to pay your essential expenses. Essential expenses include:

  • Food
  • Gas and electricity bills
  • Council tax
  • Mortgage or rent
  • Any loans secured against your home

If you aren't certain what your priority bills are, we have a helpful guide to identify the ones that are important: Priority and non priority bills

2. Make a list of the things you want

It is very easy to overspend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is important to understand the difference between items that you need and items that you want. So take some time to think about each item and ask yourself - Do I need them or do I want them?

Then, set yourself a limit, either in terms of amount you can spend or the number of items you will buy. 

If you are shopping for Black Friday deals for Christmas presents, a birthday or personal gifts, creating a list of what you want to buy can prevent you from overspending.

Having a list will also help you estimate how much each item will cost. This can help you set your budget.

3. Talk to someone

If your mental health is poor, speak to a family member, trusted friend, or mental health support worker before making any purchases.

People who know you are more likely to understand your mental health. They can help prevent you from overspending or buying things that you don't want or need. They can also help you make a list and set a Black Friday budget.

4. Set your budget and stick to it

Black Friday makes it very easy to overspend, and online shopping can distance you from the items you are buying. Make sure you set a budget for how much you can afford to spend.

Top tips:

  • Set a budget limit for online spending and stick to it.
  • Just because something is cheaper than usual doesn't mean it’s affordable.
  • Use our budget planner to make a budget for Black Friday so you know exactly how much you can afford to spend.

5. Compare Black Friday prices

Once you have made your list and have set your budget, you should research which online shops have the best deals for price and quality.

Comparison websites are an excellent way to make sure you get the best Black Friday deals. Always compare the same products and consider delivery charges if ordering online.

Be aware of hidden costs, such as entering a payment plan that has high interest or a contract which has a high penalty should you be unable to meet the monthly payments.  

Time-limited deals often generate a sense that it is 'now or never' and encourages us to spend for fear of losing out. However, very often those deals return later in the year or there will be different ones you can access. Research by the website Which?, known for helping consumers make informed choices, found that only 2% of discounted products are cheapest on Black Friday, and were actually cheaper at other points of the year. This is despite many retailers claiming Black Friday sales are their "biggest of the year."

So, take a few minutes to question whether a Black Friday or Cyber Monday price will be the best price you see, or could you wait and save up, buying at a better time for you and your budget.  

6. Keep your receipts and know your consumer rights

Always keep the receipts for anything you have bought. For example, if you have bought clothes, keep the tags attached.

Now take a moment to think about what you have purchased, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I afford this?
  • Have I stuck to my budget?
  • Do I need this item?

Some Black Friday deals can create a lot of noise in your head. However, taking a moment to reflect can help you answer these questions.

Remember the consumer contracts regulations; you have the right to return any purchase up to 14 days from the date you received your goods.

7. Use the jam-jar method of saving

The jam jar method is a way of dividing your money into several pots for different expenses. Many bank accounts now offer a jam-jar account for you to move cash to other pots. You can label each jar.

For example:

  • Food
  • Bills
  • Debt
  • Black Friday

You could have a jam-jar pot in your bank account just for Black Friday. This will help you see how much money you can spend on Black Friday and prevent you from overspending.

8. Pay yourself a weekly allowance

Using the jam-jar method, you could pay yourself a weekly amount every Monday. You can use jam-jar accounts to put your weekly allowance in. Once you have paid all your expenses, anything left could be spent or transferred to a Black Friday or other jam-jar. This can help you stick to your budget.

9. Understand your mental health and money situation

Your mental health can affect your ability to manage your money effectively. Ask yourself:

  • Why do you spend money?
  • What situations make your mental health worse? Examples could include debts, paying bills, opening bills, talking with people etc.

You can read our guides on how money worries can affect your mental health and how your mental health condition can affect how you manage your money.

You can also download our Mental Health and Money Toolkit. This is a free resource to help you understand, manage and improve your mental and financial health.

10. Watch out for scams

As Black Friday shoppers are keen to snap up a deal, National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are warning shoppers to beware an increased prevalence of online scams around this time of year. They are especially warning shoppers to beware as scams are becoming more sophisticated with the creation of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, allowing scammers to produce more convincing scams, fake adverts, and false websites than before. Keep an eye out for:

  • Urgency: Are you being pressured to respond or act quickly? You may also be threatened with negative consequences for not responding.
  • Scarcity: Are you being promised items that are reportedly in short supply?

Before acting on an apparently good deal, check the source. You can read more about how to stay safe online, including what to do if you have been scammed, on our dedicated scams, fraud, and mental health page.

11. Always ask for help if you are worried about your mental health and money

You should always get help if you are finding it challenging to manage your mental health and money. Poor mental health will severely impact your ability to manage your finances.

If you feel your money and mental health situation is getting beyond your control, you should contact Rethink Mental Illness who offer free mental health support, or a debt charity for free money advice.

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