The Black Friday sales, inherited by our American neighbors, are a good way to save money on Christmas gifts. On the day after the American Thanksgiving (November 25th), most major retailers will offer very interesting discounts on many different products such as phones, TV’s, clothes, accessories … But to be sure that this exceptional day really is a good thing for your wallet, you need to follow certain rules.
Set a budget
Before even going shopping (online or in stores), you need to establish a budget. You can track all the expenses you have to cover (Christmas gifts, special treat for yourself, food, décor …) and then prioritize each. You can also split your budget between family and friends and establish individual spending limits. By giving an amount to each purchase you want to make, it will narrow your research and avoid overpriced impulse purchases.
Make a battle plan
Make a list of all the shops and retailers you want to shop to. Go on their website or look for their flyers to see what discounts will be available during Black Friday. They are generally made public a couple of weeks before the big day. Note all the stores hours and decide which stores to go first to. If you want, for instance, to buy a game console, be sure to be there for the opening since it is a highly-demanded product.
Most retailers offer even more interesting deals online. Check if the item you were looking for is not even cheaper on the website of the brands you wanted to buy. Some retailers also often begin their sales a bit earlier than the stores. If you buy online, do not forget to verify the shipping costs and that you buy from a trustworthy source.
Ask about price-matching
Some places such as Walmart, Staples and Best Buy match the price of their competitors all year long but it can be even more interesting during Black Friday. You can save money by purchasing the exact same product for a lower price but also time because you just have to go to one store to obtain the best price possible. Scan the stores’ ads to see if price-matching is a possibility.
Be careful if you shop in the United States
It can be tempting to cross the border to enjoy Black Friday sales in the US but it can cost you more than you think. Warranties don’t often apply in Canada and if you need to return or exchange something, you’ll need to do a second trip. Take into account the expense related to the trip itself (gas, hotel room, food …) and do not forget that if you take the road, you will have to pay taxes on your purchases if it exceeds $200 CAN (if you stay 24 hours and plus) and $800 CAN if you stay more than 48 hours.
Leave your credit card at home
Cash or debit card are a great way to stay within the budget that you’ve decided before going shopping. Credit cards are safest (and you are mostly cover in case of frauds) but they also are a very good way to spend more that what you’ve planned. If you choose to have a large amount of money in cash, be careful of pickpockets and keep you purse or wallet safe against you.
Read the fine print
Some stores change their return policies for products bought during Black Friday. It is possible that some retailers will charge you up to 15% in restocking fees (especially for electronics). You can ask about the return policy before paying.
There will be amazing deals but also a lot of people who would want to benefit from it. Dress for the occasion (comfortable clothes and shoes, warm clothes if you are going to wait outside), bring a snack (hot beverage, water, cereal bars, string cheese …) and take some distractions (a book, your Ipod)
Bring a friend
Teamwork can help you achieve your goals and go to all the stores you listed priori to this day. You can cover more ground if you go to the same stores but in different alleys. You can either meet at the cash register or at a café if you’ve decided to cover different stores. Be sure that your cellphones are charged so that you can each keep you posted on your purchase and on the eventual last minute discounts.
Don’t forget about Cyber Monday
If you don’t like crowded space, you can also enjoy the comfort of your living room with the Cyber Monday. Starting the next Monday after Thanksgiving, everything can be done online. Some retailers even post special offers on Thursday night (at 9pm). A lot of people will probably have the same idea so be patient because the websites might be slow.
During this week end (Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the average spending per person is over $300 but you can reduce the bill by being prepared. Plan a strategy and a budget and stick to it. Enjoy those days to buy gifts for your loved ones (or for yourself) without going over-budget