How to Use Black Friday to Your Advantage

Hello, My name is Megan and I am easily swayed by deals…or even “deals.” Black Friday weekend for me is usually when I hunker down and focus on my vintage jewelry, but there are times when I sneak a peek at my email and then suddenly blackout. I’ll come to with my Amex in my hand, wondering what happened, and immediately regret my decisions…but not enough to cancel the orders. Sigh.

We all want to think we’re above being bamboozled, or that we’re smart and can sniff out a bad deal, but every year Black Friday “deals” prove that consumption and impulse purchases prop up a ton of businesses. The reason it’s called “Black Friday” isn’t a fluke; it’s the beginning of the time of year when businesses recoup the costs they’ve had over the year and get out of the “red” and into the “black”, accounting wise.

I was originally going to write a ginormous list of all the sales I know that are going on for this weekend, but you know what? I’m not about it.

I’ve sent my picks over to my VIP newsletter subscribers so if you’re on that list then you know what I’m scoping out and what deals I think are actually worthy of your moolah. But I’ve cautioned them about going overboard, too, so we’re all in this together!

But look, I’m not a monster. A deal is a deal and if you’re gearing to go this weekend, here are some tips for making sure you don’t end up spending money on useless, poorly made clutter that will end up Konmari’d next year:

How to Use Black Friday to Your Advantage and Not Get Suckered

1. Plan out a better budget

If this weekend is all about your self-care and treating yo’ self, then by all means. But don’t go crazy if you can’t allow it in your budget. Remember that it’s not a deal if you weren’t going to buy it in the first place.

2. Research what you actually want

Along the same lines, don’t fall prey to buying something because it’s on sale (or even “on sale.”) It’s not above retailers to hike a price way up and then list the normal price as the “special sale price.” (This happens a ton on Aliexpress) Don’t fall prey to the lure of a deal, research the price history if you can.

3. Don’t fall for the “special” items

These are the worst and it drives me crazy. Electronics manufacturers are notorious for creating “Black Friday exclusive” products, like TVs and small kitchen gadgets. You know why they’re “exclusives?” Because they’re made with lesser-quality components and aren’t as durable as the normal products. Be wary of these sorts of deals and make sure there’s a good warranty.

4. Add it to your cart, then close the browser

I love the hunt, don’t you? I think that’s why we all go a little cuckoo with online shopping. What I like to do is put everything I want into my cart, then walk away (err, figuratively. I would probably look like a crazy person doing this in Target). A few hours later, if I still want the things then I’ll go back to the site and look at my cart. Am I really going to wear a floral ball gown enough times to justify buying it (even though it’s super pretty)? Do I really need a velvet Chanel boy bag when I rarely carry purses in the first place?

Usually, after a few hours my high has worn off and the reality of how ridiculous my potential purchases would be sets in. Thus, saving me a ton of money and regret. (Though, seriously, I really do love this bag.) And don’t worry, in most cases your Black Friday purchases can wait a few hours, or even all weekend (and if they go away, well, it’s all just “stuff” anyhow!)

Extra Ideas to Maximize Your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals

1. Check your credit card offers

Sign up for any deals, bonuses, or promotions that might make your purchase go a little bit further. My American Express Platinum just pulled out a Membership Point bonus deal with Amazon and that never happens. So you best believe I am using that to my advantage. Things I planned on buying anyhow can now officially contribute to my next vacation, so thanks, Amex and Amazon!

2. Check additional cashback options

Rakuten is the one I use (formerly ebates) and I always make sure to check and see if there’s a way to get additional cashback by using their shopping links.

3. Price shop

Price matching will sometimes work on Black Fridays, but it’s hit or miss. What I like to do, instead, is scope out more popular items and check a few different websites to see who’s got the best deal. For example, Instant Pots are hugely popular and will most likely be on sale across the board. So I’m hitting up Amazon, BestBuy, Macy’s, and eBay to see where I can get the best deal. (I’ve attached the links so you can look and see what the best deal currently is, too!) I’ve also been eyeing up Cricut Makers on Amazon and eBay because I need to get my craft on, so I’ve been holding out for this weekend!

4. Above all, be kind

Those who are working this weekend, whether it’s in Walmart or a small business, are still people. Remember that they’re all just trying their best (even if it doesn’t feel that way) and they deserve respect and kindness. Don’t yell at them or threaten to get them fired (there’s a reason this “Karen” meme has taken off) for things they cannot control. We’re all just out there trying to live a happy life!