The most anticipated shopping day of the year, Black Friday, is almost upon us. Once again, we stare wide-eyed with fingers poised to Add to Cart. At this time of year, there’s no shortage of opportunities to land a great deal on all the things you can dream of buying. But, just how good are the deals, and do you need to snap up everything that’s on offer?
Whether you’re buying for family, yourself, or your business, you want to be sure that you’re making smart spending decisions more than ever in these uncertain times. That’s what this article is about.
In a few steps, you’ll learn how to make smart choices to avoid buyer’s remorse and feel confident you’ve made a thoughtful investment that’s genuinely worth having.
Prepare to Purchase with Purpose
We all love to land a bargain (we’re actually wired this way). Getting a cheaper price than we were willing to pay or a significant deal less than the usual price just feels good. That logic even extends to when you buy something you have no real need for — the perceived value of landing the deal. Seemingly any deal can be infinitely pleasing until buyers remorse kicks in. That’s what we want to avoid here.
Black Friday marketing tactics are so bold and exciting. They make products appealing that might not otherwise have had the same sway. Our favorite retailers market these deals as one time or limited offer, upping the fear of missing out and the thrill of the purchase.
Let’s face it, the FOMO factor is strong in all of us and drives us to buy things we wouldn’t usually, just because there is a time limit driving us to do so, rather than gamble on finding a better offer elsewhere.
Working out whether a purchase is, in fact, of good value takes some consideration, so let’s get to it.
Make a budget and stick to it
Before looking at the onslaught of deals, create a shopping list and a budget. This way, you have a point of reference to help make purchase decisions that can help avoid overspending on impulse purchases.
As the old saying goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Don’t go full steam on Black Friday, blindly purchasing items without a shopping list. Without a considered list, you’re likely to make ill-judged decisions to purchase items you don’t need. But creating a list of the things you need to update will help you stay focused in the face of tempting but frivolous purchases.
Figure out how much you have got to spend. Fire up Excel, add everyone you want to get a gift for a spreadsheet, and assign a dollar amount to each lucky recipient.
Cash over credit
As with the remainder of the year, buying at a discount comes with the same pitfalls when you’re spending money you donBeware of the pitfalls of spending money you don’t have on things you don’t have, especially on things you don’t need.
There are many cases where buying on credit makes sense — purchasing a new car, a house, or household necessities like white goods. Avoid using credit for anything else. What’s more, in the long-term — unless you’ve landed a zero-interest payment plan — buying on credit will end up more expensive than paying cash, potentially negating the benefits of buying at a discount.
Buy in bulk for year-round savings
This tip is as true for business as for personal shoppers. Note down your daily expenses throughout the year, particularly the items you are frequently buying. Now’s the time to buy them in bulk to realize savings all year round. One smart shopping strategy is to skip buying things you don’t need just because the price is right. Buy up the essentials instead.
Research Your Products
It pays to do your research. What’s the use in snapping up a bargain to save money on a bad product. As Black Friday ramps up and your inbox is flooded with deals, it’s time to assess whether the offers on your desired products are worth investing in.
Check the reviews
Bargain basements deals are in abundance on Black Friday, but you need to be sure the products are worth even the discounted price. For example, you find a nice-looking TV advertised as OLED or 4K — that doesn’t mean it’s going to have a great picture. Make sure you check the specs. Your average iPhone wireless headphones might not match the latest variety coming out of Japan that’s got a better battery life and a charging pod with an LED display. Don’t be put off by alternative brands. Just check that the specs are what you need in any given product.
The same goes for making purchases based on brand name familiarity. Just because one brand isn’t a household name, it’s not necessarily a bad sign that it’s gone on sale. Most people associate Sony and Samsung with quality TVs, but what about the huge discounts on 4K Hisense or a Blaupunkt TV? By reading reviews and consumer reports, you can see how each product stacks up.
If the specs are right and reviews persuade you, you might have got yourself a good deal.
When it makes financial sense to upgrade in tech
Most technology, from smartphones to tablets, laptops, and TVs, are released in yearly cycles. That leaves you with one year to enjoy the device before there’s a new one to get excited about.
Indeed, we see technological advances every day, but considerable tweaks and upgrades to products aren’t a given. Since the dawn of tech, companies have played a good game tempting us to buy their latest models, even when the version that’s about to celebrate its first birthday is still more than adequate for the job, for most people.
Stick with me now for some basic economics. Marginal utility is the benefit derived by consuming a product. This concept helps evaluate whether changes — at the very edge of product development — on the latest products, over their predecessor, are worth investing in.
Often, the answer is no, not really. From one line to the next, you’re looking at the smallest increase in benefits, accompanied by the highest level of cost. Instead, James, of Simple Living Daily, suggests looking further down the product line:
“…jumping from 3-4 versions back to a newer version, you can begin to have more significant increases in utility. At this level, you are no longer working on marginal changes but compounded improvements overtime.”
So when is it right to upgrade your gadgets? James recommends that said when said changes become significant depends on the following factors:
- How quickly products innovate — does the newest model include upgrades worth investing in? A new color line in an iPhone model you own already might not be the best use of your Black Friday spends.
- Your use cases — If you’re a Vlogger, an extra 10-megapixel smartphone camera is a game-changer. For making calls and holiday pics, your current model might suffice.
- Your Budget to Purchase Items — will this ‘deal’ eat into a sizable amount of your budget?
Replace or repair?
There’s a box in every home holding a graveyard of old gadgets. Many people are thinking, “now’s the time to replace them.” Have you thought instead about repairing a gadget you already own instead?
Fire up your computer and check out the specs. If it’s worth saving (considering the financial cost or marginal utility of buying the latest version), head to a repair shop in your community to bring it back to life. You’ll not only be helping out a local business, but you’ll also free up some cash to spend on gift shopping or to sit tidily on your bank account.
Invest in your local community
Instead of relying on the big e-commerce moguls, how about checking out what’s on offer closer to home. Injecting some cash into small businesses in your community is bound to leave you with a good feeling, even if the discounts they can offer won’t match Amazon.
The right time to buy
Yes, you can snap up some great electronics deals. The same goes for toys that tend to be heavily discounted in the two-week run-up to Christmas day. Retails take the time from mid-December to clear their inventory before Christmas. At which point, stores often start to sell out of the years most sought after toys. Therefore, Black Friday might well be the best time to land a deal on must-have family gifts.
But, Black Friday isn’t the best time to buy things like linen, winter clothing, gym subscriptions, and a whole lot more. The site Pure Wow offers a complete oversight on what to hit and where to swerve this Black Friday.
Finally, is it worth having?
You want to know that your bargain gift purchase will entice enthusiasm rather than disappointment. So, when evaluating sales, don’t just consider the price, but also the popularity. You’ll find earlier models of video game consoles and earlier releases of games deeply discounted; however, consider whether that’s what your loved one had their heart set on unwrapping this Christmas.
Making Your Money Stretch Further
When you’re shopping online, there are many ways to make savings. You shouldn’t be paying full price on anything (even full-price products) all year-round. Additional savings can be made through newsletter sign up promo code and free shipping codes, cashback offers, and membership reward points.
Look at the price, not the ‘saving’
Just because a deal claims to offer a whopping saving, don’t assume it’s worth having. When you see a vast reduction like ‘was $200, now $99’, it can be that the discount you’re getting is somewhat exaggerated. WIthout researching prices, how are you to know if a Black Friday deal is, in fact, a good deal?
- Compare Price — Before you pull the trigger, you should always run the product through a price-comparison site to make sure you’re getting the best price on the item you want to buy.
- Check Price Trends — Price comparison tools also let you check how much a product has been sold for previously so you can work out whether the ‘sale’ price really represents good value.
Once you’re sure you’re not paying over the odds, check if there are perks to purchasing from one store versus the other.
Earn as you spend
If you’re splashing out on a big purchase (or several), check whether you could be getting something back in the process. Free to use cashback sites offer deals at thousands of retailers. Don’t let cashback sway you toward investing in a substandard product. Cashback is a bonus, not the starting point of your buying decisions. Any opportunity to stack on additional savings, even if small, shouldn’t be missed.
Re-evaluate your purchases
It’s hard not to get swept up with the excitement of Black Friday, which leads a lot of us to impulse buy and overspend. Let that bargain shopping buzz wear off. Once the dust has settled and the buzz of bagging a bargain wears off, consider returning any purchases that you no longer feel great about. After that, be sure to return any items you don’t feel great about while the return window is open.
The advice in this blog should help you navigate Black Friday and come out with some significant investments, and there are many to be made when you plan ahead.
Once you’ve decided how much you can afford to spend, stick to it. Best of all, avoid buying on credit and never splash out on items on a whim. Do your research instead of making sure you’re getting a good deal.
Do you have any great ideas for making Black Friday work for you? Let us know in the comments!