Black Friday is an annual tradition for many shoppers, where deals can be had and dollars can be spent – often in excess. It can be an exhilarating day, but it’s also a day where caution should be used to avoid going into unnecessary debt.

Here are a few tips to help you stay on budget this Black Friday (and the rest of the holiday shopping season):

  1. Budget. It is important to remember that finding a good deal is a great thing, especially on an item you have been wanting for some time, but don’t ever go into debt buying any non-essential item, no matter how good of a deal it is.
  2. Bring Cash. Using cash gives you built-in constraints, eliminating the damage of last-minute impulse purchases. Once you spend your cash you are done shopping, period!
  3. Good Deal? Determine what a good deal is. Just because you find something well below its typical price doesn’t mean it is a good deal, at least for you. A good deal is a good deal only if it’s something you wanted in advance, and only if the price is far below what you had planned on spending previously on that item.
  4. Shop Smart. Only shop at places with a good return policy. With online shopping overtaking in-store purchases for many shoppers, make sure the stores you frequent make it easy to ship back items you no longer want.