Everyone knows the biggest shopping day of the year is Black Friday, and this year’s monster sales event lands on November 23 (although some deals will be available earlier). It’s the time when all the biggest retailers drop prices on items of all kinds-from video games and movies to TVs and furniture-in an effort to make a killing as the holiday shopping season officially begins.
Just like with any situation that can put a hefty strain on your credit cards, it’s best to go into Black Friday prepared. We’ve already covered what to expect from Black Friday 2018, but below we’ve compiled some of the smartest ways to save as much money as possible on the things you want, while still being financially responsible.
1. Make a List Beforehand
Once the deals go live, it’s easy to get swept up in the hype and go on a spending spree. When that happens, though, you’ll often end up with a pile of items you don’t actually need. If you make a list of what you really want before the Black Friday deals begin, you’ll be better prepared to stick to the list and let the inessential deals pass you by, no matter how good the prices are.
2. Check the Ads
Nearly all of the big retailers that participate in Black Friday release Black Friday ads in the weeks leading up to the big event. You can find these pretty easily on their websites, or you can see our roundups of things like Target’s gaming deals (or its best gaming deals). Take a look at the ads and make a plan for which items you want to buy, and where. Because stock can run out fast on the best deals, prioritize your purchases and plan what you want to buy and when it will be available.
3. Make a Budget
Getting great deals is a positive thing, but overextending yourself financially is not. If money is tight, a central part of your Black Friday planning should be making a budget and pledging to stick to it. Budgeting might not be the most fun or glamorous thing to do, but will help you out enormously in the long run.
4. Use Social Media
For real-time updates on when Black Friday sales go live, your best resource is social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. You can follow GameSpot Deals on Twitter to find bargains on video games, consoles, and accessories. Another great resource is SlickDeals, a sale-tracking site that surfaces the best deals in just about every product category (it has a Twitter account as well).
5. Comparison Shop
If you see a deal you want, it’s always a good idea to check the item’s price at other retailers before you buy. The only potential issue on Black Friday is missing out on highly sought-after items because you spent too much time looking elsewhere. So unless the deal you’re considering is a doorbuster, you don’t have anything to lose by exercising due diligence and comparing prices.
6. Check Price History
Unfortunately, not all of the deals you’ll see on Black Friday represent top-of-the-line savings. To make sure the item you’re about to buy is a good deal, it’s wise to check a price history tracker like Camelcamelcamel. There, you can see how low the price has dropped in the past and how often it fluctuates, which can help you determine if now is a good time to buy.
7. Don’t Get Bummed If You See a Better Deal Later
Once Black Friday rolls around, you’ll see deals popping up left and right. Doorbusters will go in and out of stock, Amazon’s Lightning Deals will flicker into existence before vanishing, and surprise deals will arrive at random. If you make a purchase and then see a better deal later, don’t be too upset.
For one thing, you might be able to return the item you paid a higher price for. Just make sure to look at the retailer’s return policy before buying at the lower price, because you might have to pay a restocking fee or cover the cost of return shipping. At that point, the better deal might not actually save you money once all is said and done.
Those are our Black Friday shopping tips. Let us know in the comments if you have tips of your own.