It’s the bargain-hunter’s busiest time of the year! With so many of us watching our spending these days, Black Friday has become almost as much of a holiday as Thanksgiving. And if you don’t want to venture out into the cold and snow fighting the crowds to shop at the big box stores this Black Friday, you don’t have to. You might even find better deals by shopping online or shopping at your favorite locally owned shop.
And I’ve noticed that a lot of us full-time frugal people are resistant to getting caught up in the Black Friday frenzy. Understandable, since we are used to not succumbing to hype or doing something just because everyone else does.
But there are some legitimate money-saving deals on Black Friday week/weekend even if you don’t need a bigger TV or a smaller watch…
Black Friday Shopping Tips
Here are some tips to help you find the best Black Friday deals, both online and in-store. And we want to start with one Black Friday idea you might not normally think of!
Don’t Overlook Local Black Friday Deals
Whether or not you’re planning to shop the big chain stores, keep your eyes open for local deals. At times we’ve seen some really neat Black Friday deals that surprised us: museum memberships, amusement park tokens, tickets to shows, Groupon deals, and more.
And smaller local retail stores don’t always wait until Small Business Saturday to run a sale, so if you wait you might miss all the best deals.
It can be more difficult for local stores to get the word out about their Black Friday sales, so if you see a good sale share it!
Do Your Research Now
Don’t wait until Black Friday to start looking for deals on your target items. Start NOW comparing prices and features on products you have on your shopping list so that you’ll recognize a good deal when you see it.
Check prices on the specific items you want, and maybe even write them down in a notebook or track them on a spreadsheet. As soon as possible, compare Black Friday ads now to see what the deals will be in the stores. It’s possible that you’ll get the same price or even better before then.
Pricing isn’t the only part that matters though. The features of an item can make all the difference in whether or not it’s a deal at the advertised price. This is especially true for electronics, where a few gigabites or megapixels more or less can make a big difference in price. So research your products – know the difference between digital zoom and optical zoom when buying a digital camera, for instance.
It also applies to small kitchen appliances and large ones. Decide what you really want before you step foot into a store.
Also, start now comparing the accessories that go with the games and electronics. If you just grab all the accessories and the batteries displayed next to Black Friday purchase, you may spend all your savings.
Instead, you may be able to use a coupon to buy batteries, or score a great deal on a memory card at a discount club or online. The accessories for the item may be cheaper online or at another store.
Don’t Wait Until Cyber Monday to Shop Online
Cyber Monday (the Monday after Black Friday weekend) used to be the day people shopped for deals online, but you definitely don’t want to wait until Monday to start shopping for online bargains.
Some of the bigger online retailers already have what they’re calling “holiday deals” or “pre-Black Friday sales.” It might be true that they’re holding back some of the biggest bargains until later this month, but you can do your holiday shopping all month long and find great deals on things you need if you’re selective. (But you should still save a big chunk of your holiday shopping budget until the end of the month!)
Remember to Look for Non-tangible Things Too
Do you use photo editing software, budgeting apps, calendars or other apps that cost money? Software and apps also often go on sale during Black Friday weekend or on Cyber Monday. Sometimes you can get a great deal on photo printing services too.
This can also be a really great time to sign up for any online course you’ve been considering. Printables, ebooks, and other digital products go on sale during this time too.
The biggest key to catching the savings on these types of products is to sign up for emails from the sellers. You can always unsubscribe later if you want to, but more than likely they’ll tell their subscribers about deals before they tell anyone else.
And digital products aren’t the only kind of intangible bargain you might find Black Friday weekend. Check out our list of Non-Toy Gift Ideas and watch for sales on those too. Lessons, anyone?
Look for Promo Codes, Fuel Points, and Other Cool Tricks
In addition to looking for lower prices online, look for perks like free shipping or free in-store pickup. You should *expect* free shipping these days. Free installation or setup can also make a good deal even better.
And do look for promo codes throughout the holiday shopping season. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to combine everyday promo codes with the really big sales, but remember to check for them before you check out.
Other perks that might help you save extra money are things like gift card with purchase, bonus fuel points, gift card bonus deals, etc. And if you buy a gift card for the fuel points, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give it as a gift. You can shop with it too.
Bonus Tip: If you get a gift card or a little extra spending money this year? See how far you can make it stretch by shopping after-Christmas sales and promotions from stores like JC Penney.
Black Friday tips for shopping in-store
Things have really changed in recent years when it comes to Black Friday shopping. Brick-and-mortar stores used to lure you in with the best-price-ever on a big-screen TV or an electric griddle, and you’d have to fight mobs of people just to get to those bargains. While that isn’t the only way to do it now, there are still some good in-store deals, so the following tips still apply.
1. Go early. I mean really early. Stores usually have limited stock on the very best bargains. If you plan to linger over your morning coffee before you hit the Black Friday sales, you may as well wait until Saturday to do your shopping.
In fact, some major retailers will open in the evening on Thanksgiving, and even more will open this year at midnight Friday morning. So waiting until 4 a.m. on Friday is waiting too late to get the very best deals.
2. Don’t just go to the obvious stores. Some years I’ve found the very best deal on an item I wanted at completely unexpected places! The big names like Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Best Buy are obviously going to push hard to everyone in for the big deals on electronics, but look at the less obvious ads too. This could include grocery stores, small hardware or farm supply chains, and as I mentioned first in this article, local brick and mortar shops.
3. Don’t bring your kids, but do bring a friend. If you can swing it, a friend, spouse, or willing relative can be a huge help when you’re navigating the stores, finding parking spots, and carrying things to the car.
4. Speaking of cars, don’t leave shopping bags or purchases visible inside. Hide them in the trunk to make your vehicle a less-appealing target for thieves.
5. When you’re ready to check out, look for clerks with handheld scanners. When I was shopping recently on a regular day, a store clerk who had been standing in the main aisle asked me if I was ready to check out. I thought she was going to show me to the shortest line, but no! She actually had a handheld scanner and a mini receipt printer with her, along with some bags. She told me they were testing this to see if it will help during the big Black Friday sales.
6. Scout out the store to check the layout beforehand so you can make a beeline to the items you really want.
7. See something you like? Look up or down. The most expensive merchandise is at eye-level, while lower-cost versions are stocked in shelves above and below.
8. Buy now, trade later. See the style but not the size or color you want? If the store allows returns or exchanges on merchandise, buy it at a discount anyway and bring it back next week when your size or color might be in stock.
9. Note that many doorbusters are also available ONLINE as well. Last year, I found most of what I wanted at Walmart online (you do have to wait a few hours after the online shopping begins because the site is usually overloaded) and it was shipped to my door for free.
10. On Black Friday, try stopping by that afternoon after the crowds have thinned. You may have to dig through strewn merchandise, but many sale items remain available.
What are some other good Black Friday shopping tips you’ve discovered? Share your secrets (if you’re willing) and let us all know how to get the best deals!