“The holiday shopping season took off earlier than ever with doorbuster-like sales launching in mid October and rolling right into November well before the actual Black Friday sales event,” says budgeting and money expert Andrea Woroch.
“While shoppers welcome extra opportunities to save, especially as inflation causes consumers
to stress over affording the holidays , it also creates a lot of confusion. Millions of Americans are left wondering when to buy what and how to know for sure if a current sale is the best deal they can get. Doing your research and planning ahead are important steps to prepare for Black Friday, but there are a few other things you need to do in order to bag a bigger bargain during this year’s holiday sales event.”
Before you begin, Woroch says to remember that it’s important to have a plan and detailed list to avoid temptations and limit impulse purchase. Otherwise, it’s easy to overspend and rack up unnecessary debt.
Once you have your shopping game plan in place, follow these steps, outlined by Woroch, to save more during every Black Friday sale.
Compare and track Black Friday ads.
“Review Black Friday ads at to figure out which stores will have the best deals for the items on your list, noting dates and times and if the deal will be available in store or online. Deal sites like DealNews.com, BlackFriday.com and Gotta Deal aggregate store circulars in one place with the option to filter by product category to help you find specific savings quickly. Finally, sign up for emails and text messages from favorite stores and brands to get alerts on the latest Black Friday sale drops and exclusive coupons.”
Review price histories and set sale alerts.
“Big discount claims promoted on Black Friday mean very little if a retailer inflated the original price to make a deal look like a better value. Beat this sales trick by reviewing price histories using a site like CamelCamelCamel.com, which tracks price changes for items sold on Amazon over the last 30 to 120 days.
By reviewing this data, you can determine whether the deal you’re currently eyeing is worthwhile or if it pays to wait. For items that are likely to go on sale later in the season, use Honey’s DropList to set price drop alerts so you don’t miss out on future savings. The only time you shouldn’t wait is when you’re looking for a popular item in a certain color or style that is likely to sell out. Buy it and you can always ask for a price adjustment later if you find it for less.”
Take advantage of rewards or free gift cards.
“In addition to shopping around for the lowest price, look for added value offered through extra rewards or free gift cards tied to a deal, both of which can offset future holiday purchases.
For instance, Kohl’s is offering $15 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent between Nov. 20 to 25 and GAP says you can get $20 in GapCash for every $50+ you spend through 11/30. These offers essentially work like in-store credit that you can use to buy other items on your shopping list.
Meanwhile, big box retailers like Target will be offering various free gift cards with select purchases such as a free $10 when you spend $50 on select LEGO sets. And, Amazon will give you a $10 gift card when you purchase $50 worth of gift cards. Take a peek at this list of gift card deals you can snag on Black Friday.”
Rethink that rebate.
“Black Friday deals aren’t always what they seem until you read the fine print. Some doorbusters may require you to send in a rebate to qualify for the lower advertised price, but you will have to pay more upfront. While this isn’t exactly hard work, there could be steps you can’t complete for items that are gifts, such as cutting out the barcode on a product box. In the end, you have to ask yourself if you’re really going to be able to complete the rebate.
Ultimately, you may be better offer spending a little more for a deal that offers immediate savings from another store. This doesn’t mean you can’t earn something back for your purchase. Sign up for free loyalty programs to earn rewards for money off future purchases and turn shopping receipts into free gift cards using the Fetch Rewards cash-back app .”
Don’t stop at the sale price.
“Black Friday sales are great, but they could be even better. In fact, many retailers offer coupons that you can apply on top of a discounted deal to increase savings. Before checking out, always search for a coupon code by searching the retailer’s homepage, social media account or directly through a deal aggregator like CouponFollow.com which organizes deals by store name. Otherwise, download a coupon plug in like Cently which applies promo codes to your online cart automatically.
When checking out, think strategically about your delivery preference as popular items could sell out before they actually ship. For this reason, you’re better off choosing curbside pickup for goods that are available at nearby stores rather than waiting for at-home delivery.”
Beware of derivatives.
“Low prices excite many shoppers who overlook quality in favor of saving. Beware of doorbusters as many are made specifically for Black Friday and could be made of poor quality. For instance, a doorbuster electronic could missing key components or features, while a home good or clothing item could be made of inferior material. While we all want to save and get the lowest price, a lousy product will break or fall apart quickly and need replacing sooner, making it a bad buy.
Defend against these derivatives by doing your research. When it comes to gadgets, review model numbers and read reviews to ensure you’re getting everything you need and want. When it comes to home items, fashion and footwear, assess the quality in person or make sure you can get free return shipping in the event you don’t like it.”
Consider credit card offers carefully.
“You may be tempted to open a new store card to snag an additional discount on top of the Black Friday promo (GAP is offering new cardholders an extra 25% off and JCPenney says new card members can get 35% off select purchases). But, take caution: Store credit cards come with low credit limits and high interest rates and are loaded with fees. Not to mention, they have limited options for earning and redeeming rewards. You’re better off opening a new cash-back credit card that gives you a sign up bonus or more cash-back.
For example, with the Bread Cashback American Express card , you can get 2% back on every holiday purchase, regardless of what you’re buying or where you’re shopping. Use the money earned to pay off some of the gifts you charged or save it for a special treat for yourself. Before you choose a card though, read reviews at sites like CardRates.com to find the best one for your spending needs.”
Know what to buy and what to skip.
“Retailers want you to think that everything is a good deal on Black Friday, but the reality is some savings are better than others and some items are actually cheaper after the sales event.
Expect the best discounts on large screen TVs, personal electronics, smart home gadgets and small kitchen appliances. However, past years have shown that clothing, footwear and beauty goods are better buys on Cyber Monday while travel deals on airfare, car rentals and hotels are more in abundance on Travel Deal Tuesday through the Hopper app which is slated for Tuesday, November 30th. Finally, toys are typically reduced further the last two weeks before Christmas, holiday decorations and winter apparel will be cheaper after Dec. 25 and bedding and linens are best to buy during January’s White Sales.”
Study up on store policies.
“It’s important to review store policies during the holidays as many are modified this time of year including return eligibility and price matching. Before buying, pay attention to return details so you know if something is final sale or limited to store credit only. For gadgets and appliances, look out for potential restocking fees and only buy what you need. Some stores are more generous during the holidays while others impose more restrictions so think about shopping at a store that is more flexible and avoid these 10 stores with the worst return policies.”