Money Wellness
Image of a woman holding lots of shopping bags with Black Friday on
category iconmanaging your money
calendar icon23 Nov 2023

Trigger warning: Black Friday can be dangerous for your wallet and your mental health

£8.7 billion was spent over Black Friday weekend in the UK last year and with sales starting even earlier this year, it’s hard to escape the Black Friday buzz.

The phenomenon certainly increases the pressure to spend money on things we perhaps can’t afford and don’t really need.

With cost-of-living pressures forcing millions to look for cheaper alternatives and reduce spending, missing out on a ‘deal’ might seem reckless. However, if you’re buying items you don’t need, you’re not making a saving. And while spending money can release feel good hormones and give you a natural ‘high’, when you can’t afford it can have an adverse impact on your mental health.

Black Friday is a day that can cause extra stress and because it’s only for a limited time, it can push you to make purchases motivated by fear – a fear of missing a great deal.

Some people can be triggered and stressed when they’re bombarded with marketing material. It’s enough to make even the most avid shopper anxious and even more so for people with mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety.

The charity Mental Health & Money Advice has put together these tips to help protect your mental health and money this Black Friday:

Priorities your expenses first

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

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

Make a list

It’s very easy to overspend on Black Friday. It’s important to understand the difference between items that you need and what you want. Take some time to think about each item and ask yourself – do I need them or want them?

Then set a limit either in terms of the amount you can spend or the number of items you’ll buy.

If you’re shopping for Black Friday deals for Christmas presents, a birthday or personal gifts, create a list of what you want to buy to prevent you from overspending. Having a list will help you estimate how much each item will cost, which can help you set a budget.

Also check that you have an extended return period for after Christmas in case gifts needs to be returned.

Talk to someone

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

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

Set a budget and – more importantly – stick to it

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

Top tips:

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

Compare Black Friday prices

Once you’ve made a 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’re getting 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 might have a high penalty should you be unable to meet the monthly repayments.

Time-limited deals often generate a sense that it’s ‘now or never’ and encourage us to spend for fear of losing out. However, very often these deals return at other times in the year.

Keep your receipts and know your consumer rights

Always keep the receipts for anything you’ve bought. E.g. if you buy clothes keep the tags attached.

Now take a moment to think about what you’ve purchased and ask yourself:

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

Remember you have the right to return any purchase up to 14 days from the date you received the goods. If you have remorse, return it.

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? E.g. debts, paying bills, opening bills, taking with people etc.

Always ask for help if you’re worried about mental health and money

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

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

If you feel like your debts are out of control, you can always contact us for free, impartial debt and money advice.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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