Black Friday should be a big shopping day this year, with about 86.4% of U.S. consumers indicating they plan to participate and most people planning to spend between $100 and $200 on the big day.
If you’re planning on breaking out your credit cards to compete with your fellow Americans for bargains, how can you make sure you’re getting the very best products at good prices? Here’s what you can do to avoid overpaying so you can make the most of the hard-earned money in your checking account.
1. Research product reviews first
A product is only a great deal if it has the features you want and is made to last. Otherwise, you could end up among the 42% of consumers who’ve indicated they’ve had Black Friday regrets.
Before you buy anything on sale, read reviews of that particular product online at trusted websites like Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, and Good Housekeeping. You can even check out its rating on Amazon, too. If a product doesn’t make the cut in terms of consumer satisfaction, take it off your list.
2. Confirm the products you’re buying are full featured
Sometimes, that Black Friday product that looks so great may be a scaled-down or derivative version of the item you think you’re buying. For example, you might get a smart TV that was actually produced just to be sold on Black Friday at a discounted price — but with fewer features than the regular model.
You can spot a product that falls into this category by searching the model number. If it only comes up for sale in Black Friday ads or is slightly different from the model number on the manufacturer’s website, it might be a derivative product and should be avoided.
3. Choose your stores strategically
You’ll want to be smart about where you shop to pay the lowest prices once you’ve found a quality product. You can find each store’s Black Friday ad online, so you can compare what different stores have on offer. When you do, you may not necessarily want to go first to the store that has just one good deal — especially if it is a doorbuster item that could run out.
Instead, if there’s a competing location that has discounted prices on several things you want, consider going there first. It may be better to get those savings on multiple products, rather than taking a chance on scoring that one amazing bargain.
You should also look into stores most people don’t think about shopping at, like drug stores, craft stores, and auto part stores. They also have bargains, and you won’t be competing with as many people (or waiting in such long lines) to get them.
4. Don’t wait until Black Friday
Many stores have started offering Black Friday deals all month long, so there’s little reason to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start taking advantage of deals. For example, Costco has early Black Friday deals going on already.
If you can score bargains before Black Friday, then you’ll be able to cross those items off your list and not have to worry about competing with other buyers for them.
5. Use a price-checking app
Apps like ShopSavvy provide the ability to scan a barcode in real time and compare prices to make sure you’re actually paying the lowest possible amount. Download the app on your phone for those impulse buys you’re tempted to pick up, so you can check if you’re actually saving when you make your purchase.
And if you’re thinking of buying something big, always do a Google search to see the normal price and compare all Black Friday offers on it to ensure you’re really getting the best deal.
6. Divide and conquer
Finally, if you have multiple deals you want to take advantage of, consider splitting the work with a friend so you can cover more ground. Divide up which stores you’ll each go to, give each other shopping lists, and cover twice the stores on the big day.
By taking these steps, you can make sure you’re getting good prices, buying products that you’ll be happy with over the long haul, and making the most of your limited time.
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