How We Successfully Spent $500 on Black Friday

by Kevin on December 1, 2008

(Photo by AMagill)

That’s right. My wife and I spent $500 on Black Friday. This seems to go against everything I preach here on No Debt Plan, no? How could spending $500 be a good, solid, well planned thing to do?

Well, simply put, we planned for it. Let me explain.

I Hate Black Friday

I have always loathed Black Friday. Don’t get me wrong, the deals can be good. But I’m from a smaller city (about 65,000) and the day after Thanksgiving always clogged up all of the roads. Highly annoying.

Plus if you read this blog you know I’m not crazy about spending money for the sake of spending money. That is still true. I’d much rather spend time with family during the holidays than give and receive an assortment of $30 appliances. How many toasters, blenders, and ties can one person have?

Spending with a Plan is Okay

This year we did decide to make a purchase once the holiday deals kicked in. We were unsure if we would buy on Black Friday, today (Cyber Monday), the day after Christmas, or somewhere in between. The long and short of it is my wife’s laptop is a 6 year old Gateway. It’s a brick and probably weighs 8 pounds. I could use it to successfully defend us if someone tried to break into our house. It’s a weapon.

So she has a 6 year old laptop that is slowly kicking the can. I’ve tried what I can to make it run better, and perhaps it is salvagable down the line. But we are happy that it lasted this long. We set aside some money to buy her a new laptop — $500 to be exact. I told her if we needed to spend more then it would come out of my personal spending account to make up the difference.

Scouting the Deals

With the plan to spend money finalized, it was time to find the best deal possible. I spent a lot of time at FatWallet’s Black Friday forum as well as

The best deal was a Toshiba Satellite laptop at Best Buy for $379.99. However, that was a “doorbuster” deal. That would mean getting up at 3 or 4am to be at the store by 5am, hoping not to get trampled, to buy a laptop. My sleep, time with family, and personal safety are more important than that. I decided to pass. Although it was tempting…

The next best deal came from my favorite online electronics and PC software/hardware store, NewEgg. Back in 2004 I built a new computer from parts from NewEgg, and then updated the machine last November. Excellent customer service and great selection win me over every time.

They had a Black Friday deal on an Acer laptop for $499.99. 15.4″ screen, 320GB Hard Drive (more than my wife or I would ever use), 4GB of RAM, and Windows Vista Home Premium. Best Buy had a very similar laptop with 50% of the Hard Drive and RAM (160GB/2GB) for the same price. We ended up going to Best Buy to look at the machine to make sure she would be happy with it. Then we came home, logged onto NewEgg through FatWallet (to earn 1% cash back on the deal), and ordered it.

We should get it sometime this week, so I’ll be playing Mr. Tech to get her data swapped over as well as learning Vista myself.

So even though I rail against spending frivilously, I can support this purchase. We planned for it, we stayed under budget, and we’re filling a work need (she uses it for planning).

Let’s Review

  1. Planning for the need — deciding we need to make the purchase
  2. Saving for the need — intentionally setting money aside for the purchase
  3. Finding the best deal — stretching the planned and saved money as far as possible
  4. Purchase without feeling guilty

What about you? Anyone out there brave the crowds this past Friday, or did you sleep in and ignore the sales?

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chris.pund December 1, 2008 at 10:14 am

Congrats on making the new purchase Kevin. I’m sure she will be happy with anything new after 6 years! I purchased online on Friday morning to get a couple 32 inch tvs. My parents wanted one and my fiance and I had been looking for one for when we move in together in the spring. Buying on Black Friday saved us $200 off the retail price. Not too bad. I also picked up two 19″ widescreen monitors to replace my old ones (a 21″ and a 19″ LCDs). Although I did not need them (I had been thinking about getting new ones) I don’t feel bad about buying these, because they are considered a business expense and I paid for them that way. The cost will be able to be written off some as an expense come tax season.

Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet December 1, 2008 at 11:01 am

I spent about $250 online on some black friday deals. I will not go to the stores, but online shopping is a-ok with me!

Jon Smith December 1, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Good stuff, Kevin. My wife and I actually went to New York for our anniversary (pricelined the hotel and got a cheap flight). We braved the crowd at Macy’s in Manhattan just for the experience. No purchasing, just tons of people watching… and a load of disappointment at what some people were spending on the “deals”.

[email protected] December 1, 2008 at 1:41 pm

I went “shopping” with my mother and her two sisters. I was definitely there for the social interaction, rather than to shop for myself. Each year they sponsor a family at a local battered women’s shelter. They shopped this year for a mother and three kids aged 2-8. My mom likes to shop, and we’ve mostly given up gift exchange in my family, so this scratches her itch in a constructive way I suppose.

I got caught up in the spirit of things, despite my best intentions, and purchased a board game for a disadvantaged 10-year-old boy. It was sponsored through the local Boys & Girls Club, and it cost me only $6 after all discounts were taken. A kid asking for a board game isn’t asking for much. And I didn’t even have to wrap it, just left it at the store with the name tag and a “paid” sticker.

Other than that, I did find a good deal on a gift I had already planned to buy for my husband. It cost $15.

Total outlay for the day: $21. I spent a nice day with my family members. And my aunt treated everyone to lunch.

Peter December 1, 2008 at 3:19 pm

We were looking for a new computer and a new TV on black friday, but after talking about it, we decided to make do with what we have for now until we’ve reached a savings goal that we’ve made for ourselves. We had the money saved already, but the savings goal is more important.

Once we meet our goal we’ll save up and pay cash for that nice TV and new computer that we’ve been wanting. it’ll only be a few months!

SingleGuyMoney December 1, 2008 at 5:16 pm

I spent $0 on Black Friday. After all I ate on Thursday, it was nice to sleep late on Friday.

Kym December 1, 2008 at 8:32 pm

My boyfriend and I bought a blu-ray player we had been looking at for some time. We had decided about a month ago this was the model we wanted, but it came with a $300 price tag. It dropped to $200 a few weeks ago and we decided to wait a bit more. On black friday it went to $150 with a coupon code – too bad we narrowly missed that coupon code. Later in the day though we found it for $180 from Dell, and I bought it through my credit card’s reward website to earn an additional 4% cashback. Then I bought 4 blu-ray discs (3 at $12, one at $10 – pretty darn good for blu-ray) and called it a day. We both had been planning on purchasing this soon, and both had the money put aside for it, so it was nice having it come up on a good deal so we could move to the new technology sooner. Also means I can add blu-ray discs to my Blockbuster queue now 😀

Doctor S December 1, 2008 at 9:56 pm

I agree with Singleguymoney, I spent $0, slept in, had a horrible hangover, and ate turkey for breakfast. Thanks for commenting on my blog, you niche is right in my alley… or should I say, opportunity area. This is the start of a beautiful friendship!!!!!

Kevin December 2, 2008 at 10:01 am

@Chris: Sounds like you racked up!

@Ashley: Online is safer, more convenient… why not, right?

@Jon: A brave man indeed! New York during the holidays… crazy stuff. I’ll pass and wait for warmer temperatures.

@Kate: What you mention definitely sounds like a constructive way to get rid of that shopping “itch”… by helping others. I may write about this in the future.

@Peter: My wife is surprisingly onboard with us purchasing a flat panel TV or something like that — as long as we save for it. I’m the one going “Eh… the tv we have now is just fine.” Props for sticking to a plan though.

@Single Guy Money: Agreed, I slept in (mostly)… other than dog duties in the morning. Staying in your pajamas for the entire morning just has a certain relaxing thing for me.

@Kym: Hey, as long as you had the money already saved up for it I am okay with it. Other than the fact that I think in 5 years or less DVD/Blu-Ray will not be standard… everything will be downloaded online.

@Doctor S: Turkey for breakfast… hmmm, I think I would have to pass! Pie on the other hand…

Pete December 2, 2008 at 10:34 am

I prefer the pecan pie that i had for breakfast. Although the turkey and stuffing was good for lunch 😉

Ricky December 2, 2008 at 10:45 am

I am anti Black Friday. I braved the crowds one year for a “door buster” deal on a dvd player at Best Buy. I got there at the crack of down before the doors even opened and the line was already a mile long. By the time I got inside the dvd players were gone. In silent protest I completed the remainder of my Christmas shopping online from the comfort of my home. 🙂 I cannot deny the amazing deals available that day though. It sounds like you got a great one!

Kevin December 2, 2008 at 3:22 pm

@Pete: Mmm… pie.

@Ricky: Yea I just don’t see the sense in it. If you are THAT strapped for cash that you wouldn’t be able to afford the gift in the first place, then why are you shopping?

Start-Up January 8, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Even though this is way late, I decided to share my black friday experience. I slept in because there were no good deals on anything. I was looking for a ps3 deal since I signed up for the sony visa card that gave me a $150 credit on a purchase of $299 or more.

The electronics deals were super disappointing, but Dell did hook me up with a sweet ps3 deal a week or two later.

I really do need a new laptop as mine is over 6 years old and the video card is busted. I suppose I will start saving for one.

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