While it doesn't influence our opinions of products, we do receive compensation from partners whose offers appear here. We're on your side, always. See our full advertiser disclosure here.
You'd think the day after Thanksgiving would be one of rest, relaxation, and recovery from a giant meal. But alas, year after year, countless people instead force themselves to rise at the crack of dawn and line up outside of stores in the hopes of snagging some bargains.
The lure of Black Friday is obvious -- it's the day when everything goes on sale, or so retailers would like to have us believe. But if you're going to shop on Black Friday, it pays to do it right, and that means avoiding these costly mistakes.
1. Not setting a budget
Just as you need a budget for daily life, you also need one for a day when you might conceivably spend hours hopping from store to store. Before the big day, figure out how much money you can comfortably spend, and then break that total down by retailer or category. For example, if you determine you can afford to part with $500 on Black Friday, you may decide that $200 of that will go toward household items, while the remaining $300 needs to be allocated to holiday gifts.
2. Bringing your credit cards along when you shop
Credit cards may be convenient, and they do allow you to rack up rewards that can translate to free cash. But on a day like Black Friday that's loaded with temptation, you're better off shopping with cash. Before you hit the stores, take a cash withdrawal that equals your total spending budget, and leave your credit cards at home. That way, you'll be forced to stick to the budget you set.
3. Being tricked into buying lower-quality products
Have you ever seen a $1,000 laptop or TV being offered for half its normal price on Black Friday? If that sort of deal seems too good to be true, it's because it usually is. It's common practice for retailers to team up with manufacturers and have them produce lower-quality versions of popular models for Black Friday so they can be offered at what looks like a discount. But in reality, you're not getting a bargain -- you're getting a different item. The easiest way to tell if you're getting one of these lower-quality products is to look up the model or serial numbers on sale. If you can't find those numbers elsewhere, you know you're looking at a special run made with cheaper components that are more likely to break quickly.
4. Assuming you're getting the best deal
Many people figure that Black Friday is the day to score the lowest prices of the season. But that's not necessarily true. Sometimes, there are better deals to be had in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. And some retailers may discount their product line extensively after the big event to account for too much leftover inventory. So don't limit all of your shopping to Black Friday alone. Rather, research prices beforehand and check out prices afterward. If you buy something on Black Friday and see it listed for 20% less a week later, you may be able to get a price adjustment and reap that savings.
Some people avoid Black Friday no matter what, but if you're the type who doesn't mind battling crowds, then you may be tempted to make it a shopping day. If that's the case, keep the above tips in mind to avoid overspending or regretting your purchases. And remember that Black Friday may look a little different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, so a safer alternative may be to do your shopping online. Most retailers run simultaneous in-store and online specials, so if you're not comfortable hitting the mall, don't hesitate to do your shopping from the safety and comfort of home.