11 tips to get the most out of your Black Friday shopping
Black Friday 2019 will fall on November 29th, and while the event used to be a mad dash for one day only deals, it’s now become a weeklong, or even monthlong, event. Gone are the days of waiting in the 4 a.m. department store line—and can we just say, good riddance! These days you can find most of the same Black Friday sales online, meaning you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home.
This makes the physical act of shopping easier, but finding the best deals can still be elusive. We’ve compiled a list of pointers to help you shop smarter this year, including money-saving tips! Read on to get your Black Friday game plan ready for action.
1. Shop Smart. Do your research—figure out the deals in advance
Websites like Tech Radar comb through the web to find you the best Black Friday deals. Know in advance which products and companies are running the best sales so you can get the most bang for your buck. Being able to see the hundreds of deals laid out before you on a single website makes the process easier, and you don’t even have to do the bulk of the research yourself.
2. Make a Wishlist
This can be done both on actual websites or just jotted down in a notebook. Many sites have the option to add products to your wish list—making it even easier to check out quickly on Black Friday before popular items sell out. But beyond online store wish lists, you should also compile your own personal wish list. Plan out what you’re hoping to get in advance, so you can be organized and ready for the Black Friday shopping rush.
3. Another tip for smart shopping? Have your online accounts set up in advance
Most online stores require you to either set up an account or at least a guest account. This can require you to enter your email address, name, mailing address, and credit card information during checkout. Expedite this whole process by setting up your account before Black Friday. Having to set up an account in the rush of the big sales might make you miss out on the popular deals.
4. Have a budget
There’s nothing worse than getting your credit card statement at the end of the month and being shocked at the amount. It’s so easy to overspend, especially around the holidays, leaving you in a financial rut you have to dig yourself out of in the months ahead. Prevent this stressful situation from happening by setting a budget for yourself. Don’t spend beyond your means, be realistic with what you can afford, and stick to it. Figure out which Black Friday items fit into that budget and don’t stray from that path! It’s very easy to get sucked into the Black Friday vortex—deals and sales are enticing and hard to pass up. But don’t get yourself into a hole by buying things you haven’t budgeted for—you’ll only regret it later!
5. Track prices over time
Part of doing your research is keeping an eye on prices over time. This is easier than ever with all of the online resources that are now available. Consumer Reports is a non-profit member organization that works with customers to get to the truth of the matter with products and businesses. They do a huge amount of research to inform your purchase decisions—and part of this is tracking prices. This is a great resource for Black Friday shopping and beyond. It’s hard to know which product reviews you can trust these days—but Consumer Reports is a non-profit, so they aren’t in the pocket of any of the corporations they are reviewing.
You can also set up specific price alerts for products you are interested in through Honey. Honey is an extension to your web browser that will automatically search for deals and coupons as you shop in real-time. They’ll then apply the discounts directly to your cart. Another feature is their drop list—you can add items you’ve had your eye on and Honey will notify you when the price drops.
6. Be in the know about all store policies
Get all of the facts before you click buy! Stores like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart have price match guarantees—which means if you’ve done your research and know the item you are buying is selling for less at another store, you can show them proof and get the item for that price. Check which stores have price match guarantees before the Black Friday sales kick-off to get the best possible savings!
It’s also important to check out the store’s return policies. When you’re buying in a rush, you don’t always take the time to read the fine print—but you don’t want to get trapped with an item you didn’t know was a final sale. It’s always good to know how long the return period is and if the store does exchanges, store credit, or full refunds.
7. Best Black Friday shopping tip? Sit out the doorbuster sales—they aren’t worth it
People have been trampled, battered, and bruised during the mad dash to get their hands on the big doorbuster items. Who wants to partake in something like that!? Not only is it unsafe, but it’s totally not in line with the holiday spirit. Luckily, gone are the days of fighting someone in a Best Buy line at 5 a.m. Most offers are now also available online and free shipping has become pretty standard.
8. If you do go to stores...
Look for early bird shopper discounts, or midnight deals, to avoid the worst of the crowds. Crowds are usually at their worst in the afternoon, and at the lowest in the very early hours of the morning (2 a.m. – 6 a.m.). Crowds start picking up around 8 a.m. Some stores even start their sales on Thanksgiving night…so, if you really want to avoid crowds you could go on the actual holiday.
9. Spend time on social media
Data has shown that companies have increased traffic when advertising via social media platforms. This makes a great deal of sense considering how much we all use our various social media accounts. Companies pour huge amounts of money into Black Friday ad campaigns that run on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If you are looking for hot deals, look no further than your own social media.
10. Be kind to everyone
This is mostly for when you are shopping in-store, but it’s a good reminder for any situation. Black Friday is a stressful day for sales associates, store managers, and customers.
Being rude to a sales associate isn’t going to get you what you need, it’ll just make them feel more stressed and overwhelmed. The holidays are about coming together and being part of a community. It’s easy to get caught up in the consumerism, but try to step back and remember what really matters.
11. If you miss your Black Friday shopping, there’s always Cyber Monday
This year Cyber Monday lands on December 2nd. It was essentially created to be the online equivalent to Black Friday in-store shopping. Maybe you want to enjoy time with your family over Thanksgiving weekend, instead of diving into the shopping rush. If so, not to worry! You can just as easily wait for the Monday after Thanksgiving for huge online discounts and deals.