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How to Manage Your Money and Mental Health on Black Friday

Most of us view Thanksgiving as a fun and somewhat relaxing holiday spent with family, watching football, and of course a delicious feast. The following day? Next so much.

Philadelphia is where the term "Black Friday" originates. Police complained of congested streets in Philly in the early 1960s as people headed to Army-Navy football games and looked for deals after Thanksgiving, which they referred to as "Black Friday." According to, Philly's biggest department stores tried to rebrand the holiday with "Big Friday," but it failed to catch on. Eventually, retailers did begin making large profits on this day in the 1980s when the term took on the new definition that we’re more familiar with today.

Millions of shoppers flock to retailers across the country on Black Friday when many retailers reduce their prices. In fact, research from reveals 28% of American adults, or an estimated 72.4 million people, plan to shop for end-of-year sales like Black Friday. And, it’s been reported that the average adult plans to spend about $400 on Black Friday.

However, this day can also be hectic and stressful -- especially for people living with a mental illness. After all, difficult shoppers, large crowds, and long lines can easily cause irritability, anger, or anxiety.

In addition to causing mental health disorders, stress can lead to substance abuse. However, there are several ways to avoid or reduce stress on Black Friday.

You don’t have to partake in Black Friday.

"Black Friday can be fun if you choose to partake in it, but don’t feel left out if it’s not your thing," mental health counselor Heidi McBain LMFT tells Bustle. She says shopping itself is one of the main ways Black Friday impacts our brains and moods. According to a study published in Neuron in 2007, the brain has its own "shopping centers" - areas that light up like a Christmas tree when you find a great deal - and certain regions of that brain are associated with pleasure.

Spend smartly.

“In our consumer culture, it’s unlikely you’ll go without spending money over the Thanksgiving weekend—whether it’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday,” writes Kaitlyn Mahoney for MarketWatch.

“The holiday season is a great time to save, but retailers know that shoppers are ready to spend,” adds Mahoney. “Marketing campaigns take advantage of that predisposition and will do whatever they can to get you to spend money on items you don’t need.” As a result, this can lead to financial stress.

But, if you're going to spend money on Black Friday, here are some tips from Mahoney to help you spend more wisely;

  • Be aware of your budget before you get too excited about Black Friday deals.

  • Consider who you plan to buy for, what you hope to purchase, and the advertised prices. Give each item a dollar amount. Each person and event requires a specific budget.

  • Divide the total amount from your list by your holiday budget to find out what you can afford. It may be necessary to reduce spending for some people or eliminate spending for others once you add up everything.

  • Black Friday deals are just beginning to appear in stores. When building and checking your lists, keep an eye out for the best deals on the items you want, and substitute similar items to stay within your budget.

  • When you're shopping for the bulk of your holiday gifts, use your rewards credit card if you know you can pay it off responsibly.

  • You now know your budget, your shopping list, and what deals are available. Retailers offer store credit cards with 0% interest for a certain period and occasional discounts.

  • Check your budget and your transactions as you shop. Is your spending on track? A budget isn't enough; you need to put it into action as well. You need to track your money in real-time since holiday spending can add up so quickly.

  • If you prefer to use a credit card instead of cash, that's fine, just remember to pay off your credit card as soon as possible.

Don’t go alone.

Even if you don’t have any mental health concerns, you should ask a friend or family member to accompany you. They can assist you with finding items to purchase, such as these thoughtful gifts, and reduce the stress associated with Black Friday. Plus, this gives you a chance to spend more quality time with them.

Individuals who are stressed or anxious during Black Friday shopping can also receive support from a friend or family member. Overall, having support from someone else can be comforting if you feel overwhelmed.

Shop online.

Nowadays, there’s no need to leave your house if want to shop on Black Friday. More and more companies offer the same discounts online so that you don’t have to get stressed or anxious with the crowds.

Seek help if you’re concerned about your mental health and money.

Last but not least, if you're worried about money or mental health, speak with a therapist. They can offer assistance in the form of advice and coping skills so that you’re not burdened with unnecessary debt and worry.

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