Finding a real deal can be surprisingly difficult. This is especially true on Black Friday.
Of course, every retailer wants you to think that the promotions and specials they are promoting are a real bargain, but these companies have become increasingly adept at masking market prices as big discounts. So how do you know if a Black Friday "deal" is really worth it?
Let's look at some strategies to sort the Black Friday noise so you can save as much money – and time – as possible.
Not all offers are created equal
When you see a $ 200 55-inch TV, it seems like a great Black Friday deal at first glance. But some manufacturers create special items for Black Friday that aren't as well made as their normal products.
Before you decide on a Black Friday deal, you should research the specific item. Read reviews from inside publications like CNET, Wirecutter, and Consumer Reports. Be sure to compare the same product and look for similar model numbers.
Skip the doorbusters
Many stores have special doorbuster deals that are limited in quantity. These offers typically require you to be in store at the right time when it opens or online. But unless you're ready to wait in line for hours, it's almost impossible to get hold of any of these items.
Once they walk into the store, most people buy something so they don't feel like they are wasting time. Instead of saving money, they end up buying an item that they weren't actually there for.
Make a list
Before Black Friday, write down exactly what you're looking for, including Christmas gifts. Include how much each item currently costs so you know if the Black Friday offer is really worth it. Be as specific as possible.
Then, when Black Friday deals are announced, compare your list against the store ads. Be reckless and only buy products that are already on your list. This ensures that you only buy items that you actually want or need, and not just on a discounted basis.
When should you go shopping instead?
Shopping after Christmas and New Years Eve can usually result in better deals than shopping on Black Friday. Televisions often go on sale just before the Super Bowl, while mattress and bedding deals usually take place in February. Laptops and computers are often sold in late summer, just before school starts.
Consider the time investment
When you shop on Black Friday, whether braving the mayhem at the local mall or the confusion on your favorite retailer's website, it costs you time and energy. When it comes to Thanksgiving family, you may be missing out on time that you can't get back.
Think about how you feel when you shop compared to how you feel around loved ones. Even if you can save hundreds of dollars by getting up at 6 a.m. to go shopping – and there are no guarantees – is it really worth the compromise?
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Zina Kumok (147 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she paid off $ 28,000 in student loans at Conscious Coins in three years.