AJ: People generally think that Black Friday is insane. Surely it can’t be worth the effort, the late night/early morning and the massive crowds. I’ve worked in retail in some capacity for more than 10 years and in my opinion, Black Friday is awesome. I convinced Kirby to venture into my fast-paced world a few years ago, and he’s now completely on board with Black Friday. Retailers plan major deals and sales for this one specific day in an attempt to beat out other retailers, so there’s always a better deal out there if you’re willing to spend the time looking for it. Your entire purpose on Black Friday should be to save money on items you were already planning to buy or need, not to see how much you can “save” on great deals. It might feel like a competitive sport when you’re out there, but it’s only truly worthwhile if you come out in the black, not the red. Spend wisely and save with a purpose leading up to Black Friday, so when it arrives you have enough set aside to cover your expenses.
– Research deals ahead of time. There are tons of great sites out there but I’m particularly fond of bfads.net. Several weeks prior to Black Friday retailers will begin leaking their ads to drive traffic and interest about their deals, so you can begin making a plan of attack early on.
– Read the fine print. Just because it says $200 off don’t assume that you know what that $200 is off of. Most retailers won’t confirm the validity of the leaked ads until the week of Black Friday, but take advantage of customer service features offered on retailer websites and ask questions. I’ve recently had increasingly good service through chat features when available. The service is quick, and when you’re polite, they’re more than happy to give you the information you want.
– Shop for big ticket items. This year Kirby and I spent $461 less on new phones for ourselves than we were expecting to pay three weeks ago. Search for specific things you’re looking for and keep looking until you find a reasonable price.
– Know your limits. I don’t get up at 3 am, I don’t camp out with strangers, I don’t fight little old ladies. If getting the $10 Shop Vac means I have to be in line 6 hours, then I’ll wait until I can afford the $50 Shop Vac because that’s just not worth it to me.
– Show up without a plan. If you show up to Target on Black Friday without knowing exactly where to go when you get inside and what you’re hoping to buy, you’re going to get trampled like those sad people on the news. If you’re not familiar with the store layout, show up a few days early and make sure you know where you’re going.
– Shop just to shop. Waste is still waste even when you get it on sale. If you truly don’t need it, leave it behind even if it’s 75% off.
– Camp out all night at a store only to find out they only had 1 of the item you were hoping to buy. Call ahead to make sure they have plenty of what you’re looking for and ask when they expect people to begin showing up. If you’re still interested after that, go for it.
– Purchase on credit just to hope to pay it off sometime later. If you’re not paying it off in full once that bill comes, then it still isn’t a good enough deal for you to be participating.
KJ: I used to think the whole process was insane, but when I discovered all of the great deals that were available (many without much of a crowd), and the fact that for most of the deals, I just had to wake up at about the same time that I wake up every day. Under those circumstances, why not check it out? And with one day left for Cyber Monday, there’s still time to see what’s available on your need or must-have list. The key to finding a great deal (not just on Black Friday but on Cyber Monday too) is to do your research. Lots of retailers offer similar options with vastly different fine print. For the types of gadgets I like to get, I regularly check Amazon.com, NewEgg.com, and TigerDirect.com to name a few. Google is your friend, and a little research can go a long way.
This year, the items that made it to the top of our list were cell phones. With Angela’s fifth replacement phone no longer even charging and my screen shattering (no, it’s not an ultra-modern etched cover, it’s a broken touch screen mess that now doesn’t register all of my clicks). As Angela mentioned, we saved over $400 on our phones. All we needed was a little patience to not replace the phone immediately and to search for a great deal that was just around the corner. We could have theoretically saved a tiny bit extra had we been willing to camp out at Sam’s Club for hours in the morning of Black Friday 20 miles away, but we much more comfortably got the offer online from the warmth of our own home instead…it’s all about weighing the options of time, hassle, gas, and money in order to get what you want.
This year’s Black Friday seemed to be quite a success compared to prior years, so let’s hope that it kicks off the Christmas season to a good start and gets our economy back on track…that is provided the Black Friday deals weren’t just extended on credit to already strapped consumers.
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