As hectic as it may be, Black Friday offers a tremendous savings opportunity when it comes to holiday shopping. Many retailers offer enormous discounts on a wide range of goods, so you can check off everyone on your list.
However, it’s also easy to get swept away in the frenzy and not necessarily make the best purchasing decisions. With these essential Black Friday shopping tips, you’ll be sure to shop smart and save at the same time. And be sure to check out more great tips for how to save even more with credit cards and apps.
Stay ahead of the holiday shopping game with our Holiday Helper series. Each week we’ll offer great tips and tricks for holiday prep, planning, and saving from Thanksgiving to Christmas!
Tip #1: Do your research
Spend some time online researching Black Friday deals before they happen — some sites post them weeks in advance so you know what to expect. Keep an eye out right here on The Good Stuff for this year’s Black Friday ads and sales. It’ll be helpful to have a sense of what’s out there before you step into the fray.
Tip #2: It’s not just Friday
If you don’t mind going out the day before Thanksgiving, you may find that quite a few retailers start their Black Friday sales on Wednesday. Others start selling a week or two in advance! You’ll beat the crowds and get first pick of the goods.
Tip #3: Make a list
To avoid getting caught up in the craze of sales and deals, make a list of who you’re shopping for, and if possible the items you want to get them. And yes, you can put yourself on the list!
Just be sure to only include an item (or items) that you really want or need. This way you’ll avoid buying something just because it seems like a great deal, and you’ll be a more focused and efficient shopper.
Tip #4: Get there early
Photo by Arina P Habich
Many stores offer early bird specials, extra discounts, and doorbuster deals to the first people in line. To get in on them, find out the hours your chosen retailer will be open — many doorbuster deals start as early as Thanksgiving — and get there a couple hours before (though beware, some people camp out days in advance).
If you’re not going to be among the first 5-10 people in line, it might not be worth your time since retailers have limited stock of doorbuster items. And finally, beware of the doorbuster items themselves. Sometimes they’re generic models of lower quality that are designed to lure you in, or get you to spend more on accessories. Do your research to make sure you’re getting good quality along with great savings.
Tip #5: Don’t forget about price matching & adjustments
If you discover another store has a better price on an item in your cart, be sure to check and see if your store will match the best price. This saves you from hopping from store to store to try and find the best deals. Don’t forget to save your receipts, too, and keep an eye out for even deeper discounts after Black Friday. You might be able to get a price adjustment.
Tip #6: Ask about the return policy
It can be tempting to stock up on all the irresistibly good deals, figuring you can return whatever you don’t want. But many retailers have more stringent return policies on Black Friday promotions. You may not be able to return at all, only return for store credit, or have to pay a restocking fee of up to 15 percent. If you’re buying something that you’re not 100 percent sure about, make sure you’re not going to be stuck with it.
Tip #7: Be in the know
Find your favorite shops and sign up for email alerts, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their latest promos on Coupons.com. You’ll get updates on their Black Friday deals, and any offers exclusive to their email list.
Tip #8: Set a limit
Plain and simple: Set a spending limit, and once you’ve hit it, go home. You can bring only cash with you if that helps you keep track (when you’re out, it’s over), or use a credit or debit card and add your purchases up as you go.
It can also be helpful to get more detailed by setting limits on specific items, so you know when to just say “no” (for example, declare that you won’t spend more than $25 on a sweater for your dad). And if you’re super organized, make a budget for the entire holiday season (decorations, food, etc.) so you know where your Black Friday spending fits in and what’s a reasonable amount.
Need help creating your holiday budget? Check out our guide on how to create one — plus how to stick to it!
Tip #9: Hop online
If the Black Friday rush isn’t your thing, you can still get in on the savings. Many retailers cut prices online, as well, as early as midnight on Thanksgiving (so those on the West Coast can start shopping at 9 p.m.), and the sales often last through the weekend and Cyber Monday.
Another option is to join many stores, like REI, in avoiding stores altogether on Black Friday. Their #optoutside campaign calls for you to enjoy the great outdoors instead of the inside of a mall, and the day after Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends you’re thankful for.
While many online stores will be advertising their promotions loud and clear, you may have to do some sleuthing for others. Check out Coupons.com for the latest promo codes and saving opportunities.
It’s almost time to get your post-Thanksgiving shopping on. Fueled by turkey and armed with these tips, you’ll be sure to accomplish some successful shopping for those on your holiday list — and perhaps yourself, too!