Should You Brave the Black Friday Crowds for Better Savings?

It’s no secret that I love to shop, and I’m a bit of a sucker for good deals. I often go out with a goal in mind, and I love looking for the best prices. It’s so satisfying to save money, especially when you come in under-budget on something you’ve been in search of. I try to be strategic every time I head to the store, but I see more and more people on the lookout for deals around the holidays, most notably, on Black Friday. But is this really when you can get the most for your money? There are no doubt an overwhelming amount of sales, but you’ll have to decide which ones are worth it to you. If you’ll be braving the crowds this year, keep a few of these tips in mind to be sure you’re saving and not splurging…

Make a list. What are you in search of? It’s easy to get wrapped up in some of the big-ticket items that ads plaster all over their front pages (think TVs, gaming consoles, and other electronics), but if you don’t really need these things, spending money on them is ultimately a waste, no matter how steep the discount is. Compile a list of things you’re looking to actually purchase, and make note of where they appear on sale, and focus in on those items.

Check it twice. A lot of places will offer deals on the same items, such as televisions, tech gadgets, etc. Browse store ads before heading out to see what’s being offered and where, so you know which stores are worth venturing out to. However, be sure to read the fine print! While one store may offer a cheaper TV, that price may only be valid until a certain time or within limited quantities, while another place may offer an unrestricted discount on the same item for a few dollars more. It’s also a great idea to check prices with online retailers. Many sites will offer free shipping as a perk, saving you even more.

Do your research. If you’re in the market for typically expensive items, such as electronics, compare product reviews before you head out to the store and make sure you’re getting items that are worthwhile and fit what you’re looking for. There’s no point in spending money on something that many others have found to be unsatisfactory, or of poor quality.

Abide by your budget. Hopefully you’ve allotted some extra cash in your monthly budget for holiday spending. If money isn’t coming from this budget, don’t spend it! This year, I set up part of my savings account strictly for Christmas shopping, and I planned my gift-giving around what I had accumulated over the year. I’m only allowed to spend the cash that I have, so this will be the first year that I’ve successfully avoided charging any holiday purchases to my credit card (and it feels AMAZING). Leaving your credit card at home while you shop helps to avoid the temptation to use it.

Avoid the crowds. For maximum savings, skip Black Friday altogether, especially if there’s nothing in particular you’re looking for. Black Friday used to be a day for scoring the biggest deals, but retailers aren’t blind… they’ve started extending these savings throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas to encourage shoppers to spend more. You might even get a better deal if you wait until the last minute. Holding off allows you a bit more time to shop around and compare prices to be sure you’re getting the best deal around, and it’ll save you the stress of dealing with loads of people scrambling to get their hands on the same items at the same time.

Do you take part in the Black Friday madness? Share your most useful shopping tips with us!