Black Friday used to conjure up images of sleep-deprived people lining up at the local Walmart in the wee hours of morning, desperately hoping to score big deals on laptops, cameras, toys, gaming consoles, and other in-demand items. And yes, sometimes things can get ugly. Reports of people fighting and squabbling over the last unit of an ultra-discounted flat screen TV are not at all that rare.
But that was ages ago. Now, the Black Friday war zone is mostly online, and you don’t even have to go out of bed for it. You can still score some pretty sweet Black Friday deals- if you know what you’re doing.
Here are some life hacks that can make this year’s Black Friday your best one yet:
Imagine stumbling upon an HDTV priced at a measly $200. At first glance, it’s basically a steal. But do you really want that $200 TV if it doesn’t meet your standards? It has crappy resolution, the viewing angles are terrible, and it only has one HDMI port.
This is the reason why it’s important to be very specific about the items that you want to buy. For example, what is the exact model/brand/unit of laptop that you want to score on Black Friday? (eg. Asus ROG Strix GL502, Alienware 13 R3). If you haven’t decided on the model yet, make a list of all the features that you want to have in a particular item (e.g. for a TV, must-have features include 4K and HDR, more than two HDMI ports, at least 120hz refresh rate, etcetera).
It’s easy to get caught up in the Black Friday frenzy and start beelining for the “best” deals that you can grab ASAP, but having a concrete list will make you more grounded and in control of your wallet and purchasing decisions.
Do Your Research
Get crackin’ and start researchin’. Preferably, the best time to study Black Friday deals from different retailers is a few weeks or even one whole month before the day itself. You’ll find better deals that way.
Here’s a great example. Did you know that Amazon actually do Black Friday for one whole week instead of one day? For the whole week of November 17 – November 24, there are various discounts on specific items during the days leading up to Black Friday, and the day itself is peppered with “lightning deals” that offer crazy discounts during a limited period of time. Sure, you must be always online to take advantage of this, and buying stuff early might cost you to lose out on even bigger savings. But hey, it’s a lot better than being glued to your computer screen all day on Black Friday.
Example number two: Don’t stick to one site alone. It’s not only Amazon that does the Black Friday Week thing, it’s a whole bunch of other retailers too like Newegg and Best Buy. You can even use sites like PriceGrabber.com, Shopping.com, ShopZilla, and apps like BuyVia and ShopSavvy to compare prices on a whole range of online sites.
Example number three: Mastercard and Visa can reimburse you the price difference of a recently bought item if you can find it priced lower on Black Friday. All you need to do is to send them your receipt and a copy or screenshot of the ad of the item in question, and you can get some of your money back within sixty days.
Compare Historical Prices
Here’s a not-so-secret fact. Some scrupulous sellers and retailers actually price some of their items higher a few weeks Black Friday and then apply a “discount” on Black Friday to make them look like as if they were on sale.
Thankfully, consumers have technology on their site. There are various sites and apps out there that can tell you the historical prices for items that you want to buy.
One of the most popular sites used for this purpose is CamelCamelCamel.com. Humorous name aside, this site is very useful if you want to see the current and historical prices for a particular item among the top online retailers namely Best Buy, Newegg, and Amazon. These retailers do tend to let their prices go up a bit during the holidays (when there’s higher demand), and analyzing the price spikes and dips using CamelCamelCamel will let you know if Black Friday is really the right time to buy it.
Google also provides a great service called Google Shopping. Just enter an item name, and you’ll get a listing of all its prices among multiple online stores. It’s best if you want to see if an item’s price on a particular site is really the its current going rate on the market.
Retailers are all about social media, and they will sometimes offer limited deals to their followers (whether it be Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat) or reward customers who will like and follow them with rebates and coupons. Another great thing about following these retailers on their social media pages is that it makes it a whole lot easier to share your Black Friday finds with your own circle of friends.
Another tip: retailers also do a lot of email marketing. And these promotional emails usually have sales coupons in them. If you don’t mind going through the trouble of setting up a dedicated burner email for this spam-catching purpose, then this is an excellent method to squeeze out more discounts from these retail sites.
Black Friday Is Not Always The Cheapest
Yes, you read that right. Some of the prices for certain types of items that you can find during Black Friday won’t be the cheapest.
Some excellent examples: Historically, toys are at their cheapest a couple of weeks before Christmas- not on Black Friday. Winter apparel go for much cheaper during late November.
Fitness equipment like treadmills, weights, punching bags, etcetera are cheaper during January, when people are getting started on those weight loss resolutions. DSLR cameras are usually cheaper after February, after the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (where newer models are often announced). TVs from famous brands also go cheaper during this time; it’s usually the third-tier brands that go on deep sale during Black Friday.