Finding a real deal can be surprisingly difficult. That’s especially true on Black Friday.
Of course, every retailer wants you to think the promotions and specials they advertise are a genuine steal, but these companies have become increasingly skilled at masking market-rate prices as steep discounts. So how can you know if a Black Friday “deal” is actually worth checking out?
Let’s look at some strategies to sort through the Black Friday noise, so you can save as much money – and time – as possible.
Not All Deals Are Created Equal
When you see a 55-inch TV on sale for $200, it seems like a great Black Friday deal at first glance. But some manufacturers create specific items for Black Friday that aren’t as well-made as their normal products.
Before picking out a Black Friday deal, do some research on the specific item. Read reviews from insider publications like CNET, Wirecutter and Consumer Reports. Make sure to compare that same product and watch out for similar model numbers.
Skip the Doorbusters
Many stores offer special doorbuster deals that are limited in quantity. These deals usually require you to be at the store when it opens or online at the right time. But unless you’re willing to spend hours waiting in line, it’s almost impossible to snag one of these items.
Once inside the store, most people end up buying something so they don’t feel like they wasted time. Instead of saving money, they end up buying an item they weren’t really there for in the first place.
Make a List
Before Black Friday, write down exactly what you’re looking for, including holiday gifts. Include how much each item costs right now, so you’ll know if the Black Friday deal is really worth it. Be as specific as possible.
Then, when Black Friday deals are announced, compare your list with the store ads. Be ruthless and only buy products that are already on your list. Doing this will ensure that you’re only purchasing items you actually want or need, and not just buying something based on a discount.
When to Shop Instead
Shopping after Christmas and New Year’s can usually yield better deals than shopping on Black Friday. TVs often go on sale right before the Super Bowl, while mattresses and bedding deals usually happen in February. Laptops and computers often go on sale in the late summer, right before school starts.
Consider the Time Investment
When you shop on Black Friday, whether you’re braving the chaos of the local mall or the confusion of your favorite retailer’s website, it’s costing you time and energy. If you have family over for Thanksgiving, you may be missing out on quality time you won’t get back.
Think about how shopping makes you feel compared to how being around your loved ones makes you feel. Even if you can save hundreds of dollars by waking up at 6 a.m. to go shopping – and there’s no guarantee that you will – is it really worth the tradeoff?