Embrace Black Friday

Shopping can be a good thing—assuming you’re doing it right

What’s the easiest way to save money as a college student? Simple, don’t spend it in the first place. I know what you’re thinking: “Thanks Warren Buffett, but what’s to be done about the unavoidable purchases we have to make throughout the year?” Easy! Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If spending money to save money sounds like a paradox, that’s because it is. However, doing Black Friday and other shopping holidays right is a way to be smart with your money and save on necessary purchases, especially if you’re a university student short on funds.

There are good reasons to be wary of controversial shopping holidays and valid justifications for the negative attitudes surrounding them. Over-consuming material goods is notoriously bad for the environment; the fast fashion industry alone produces more than 92 million tons of waste per year, according to Greenpeace.

Shopping on such days also typically involves giving your money to large corporations with questionable business values. Not to mention, going out to snag limited deals naturally leads to less time with friends and family and more time waiting in nightmarish lines with complete strangers.

That being said, there are ways to not get caught up in materialistic nonsense and marketing schemes if you look for good deals and shop responsibly and informed. Items such as cleaning and school supplies, necessary technology and housewares you know you are going to buy anyway should be purchased while they are priced the lowest. By shopping mindfully, you will avoid toxic consumerism and walk away from even the most hectic of deal days with your sanity, and extra cash in your pocket.

Breaking down shopping to a frugal science

Bask in the power of the almighty shopping list. Make a list of products and services you actually need and stick to it. As tempting as it might be to throw that Obi-Wan Kenobi bathrobe in the cart because it’s on sale…restrain yourself, you rebel scum.

Don’t fall for schemes: It’s of the utmost importance to keep in mind Black Friday deals aren’t necessarily good deals. There are plenty of items that won’t live up to the hype or might even be found for steeper discounts later in the year. Sometimes, retailers will feature cheap products that just look nice, saving themselves money rather than saving you money. Another common trick you will certainly see in stores this year is inflating original prices simply to discount the item to a lower, but still high price.

Be an educated consumer

Research prices, value and future sales that might come up on products you are interested in purchasing. Turn to sites such as CamelCamelCamel or Invisible Hand, programs that track any product’s past and present price point and can help you determine if what you’re looking at is actually on sale. Also, make sure you’re shopping from ethical and sustainable brands and companies. Be responsible and know what you’re buying and who you’re buying from.

By now, chances are you’ve heard a multitude of reasons why you should turn your nose up to the typical shopping season. However, when you’re short on funds, passing on thrifty savings is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Grab a friend or two, pack some hot cocoa along with some bear mace—after all, this is Black Friday—and don’t you dare forget that shopping list.

Step aside holiday naysayers, we’ve got money to save over here!