Best Black Friday Shopping Tips
UPDATED FOR 2021!
Black Friday is just around the corner and it’s the BEST time of the year to get deals on just about everything on your shopping list. Use these 13 best Black Friday shopping tips to help you save big money (and time) this year!
Shop “Black Friday Week”
Black Friday is no longer just the day after Thanksgiving. The sales offered by retailers (both online and brick-and-mortar) now extend from the Sunday before Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, or the Monday after Thanksgiving. This will be November 21-29 this year.
Start looking for sales, special price drops, and one-day only flash sales in the days leading up to Thanksgiving to snag some serious deals!
Shop online, perhaps exclusively
It’s 2021 and there’s now little reason to leave your house, especially if your favorite store has a website. If you see a Black Friday deal at Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, Macy’s, JCPenney, or the like, you’ll have a better chance of snagging that gift on the computer. And you’ll be way more comfortable.
I suggest that you shop from your laptop or desktop computer rather than your phone if possible. I find the websites easier to navigate and pages load quicker on an actual computer which will be important when you’re trying to buy a limited-quantity item.
Look through the leaked ads early
Clicking through the leaked Black Friday ad scans not only helps you formulate a plan before Thanksgiving, it also gives you idea if you should jump on a price drop online or a store sale in the first few weeks of November.
So, if you see that Michaels has American Girl craft kits 50% off on Black Friday, you know if you should buy a kit offered during a one-day deal on Amazon.
Focus on brands that rarely go on sale
The Christmas shopping season is way longer than the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas (it actually starts November 1) which means retailers have a long time to run sales and discount items.
If you really want to go to the store on Black Friday, focus on the items that just don’t get discounted much during November and December. For instance, if you have a choice between getting a gaming console for your kid for 50% off or getting a winter sweater that you love, get the gaming console. Sweaters will be on sale frequently and it will probably be on clearance in January.
Join store loyalty programs
Sign up for the perks NOW so you not only get the discounts or incentives offered during Black Friday, but you’ll also get the promotional emails with special discount codes and pre-sale notices when you can shop before the public, especially for Cyber Monday.
My favorites? Amazon Prime and the Target REDcard.
Amazon Prime — Gives you FREE two-day shipping on anything sold and shipped by Amazon. You also often get to shop Lightning Deals 30 minutes before everyone else and periodically Amazon offers additional discounts on popular items exclusively to Prime members. If you’re not currently a Prime member, you can get a FREE 30-day trial of Prime HERE.
Speaking of Target, make sure you’ve loaded Target’s Circle app to your smartphone. I wouldn’t be surprised if Target offers additional discounts using Circle or special promotions only available through their app.
Think outside of Christmas gifts
Black Friday sales bring the biggest discounts of the year, so don’t limit yourself to just purchasing Christmas gifts. This is the perfect time to stock-up on gifts for special occasions throughout the year!
Here are some items you should be looking for as you shop the Black Friday sales:
Birthdays — toys, craft kits and supplies, clothing and accessories, cosmetics, building kits
Anniversaries — jewelry, watches
Weddings — small kitchen appliances, bakeware, cookware, serving pieces, towels, bedding
Graduations — luggage, travel accessories, electronics
Make a plan for handling receipts and rebates
Make sure you keep all the pieces of paper that comes after a purchase. I find having one manila envelope or cardboard shoe box with a lid at home to keep my receipts, gift receipts, and rebate paperwork organized works well.
And make sure you do the work to submit any rebate information as quickly as you can. It often takes weeks to process a rebate and for your check or gift card to arrive, so get that stuff in the mail!
It’s also smart to take pictures of the rebate paperwork on your phone or to scan it so you have documentation that you sent all the correct info into the manufacturer.
Use gift cards purchased at a discount
If you know you’re going to spend a certain amount of money at a particular store, look around to see if you can purchase a gift card to that store at a discount.
For instance, if you’re going to spend $100 at Best Buy, check eBay or another reputable gift card buying site for a $100 gift card that you can purchase at 5 or 10% off. Amazon often puts discounted gift cards on Lightning Deal and PayPal sponsors discounts on ebay as well.
You can also help your favorite non-profit out by purchasing full-priced gift card from Scrip. Chances are your child or grandchild’s school has a Scrip program. You pay face value for the gift card and the school (or non-profit) receives a percentage of the sale — basically a commission.
Shop individual stores strategically
Certain stores are “known” for particular deals during Black Friday, so strategically focus on those deals to save the maximum amount of money.
PERSONAL ELECTRONICS (Tablets, hand-held gaming systems) — Best Buy, Fred Meyer, Walmart, Office Depot, Amazon, Target
TOYS & GAMES — Amazon, Walmart, Target
TOOLS, HOME IMPROVEMENT SUPPLIES & OUTDOOR STUFF — Home Depot, True Value, Harbor Freight, Lowe’s
CLOTHING, SHOES, ACCESSORIES — Kohl’s, Macy’s, Old Navy, JCPenney, Walmart, Fred Meyer
SMALL KITCHEN & HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES — Kohl’s, Macy’s, Walmart, Fred Meyer, Amazon, Home Depot
GAMING CONSOLES & VIDEO GAMES — Best Buy, Fred Meyer, Walmart, Amazon, Game Stop
COMPUTERS — Best Buy, Office Depot, Amazon, Best Buy, Costco
CRAFTS, KITS, STOCKING STUFFERS — Michaels, Craft Warehouse, JoAnn, Hobby Lobby, Walgreens
Skip the Doorbusters
Here’s the deal — the “doorbusters” or the items listed as “limited quantities” are almost never online so you really do have to get up at the crack of dawn (or never go to sleep) and go to the store to get the deal. And there’s a good chance stores will not do doorbusters this year because of the pandemic.
Unless you want to spend hours in the rain and cold standing in line, just pretend the “doorbuster” deals don’t exist. The quantities are usually so limited there’s little to no chance of you actually getting them.
Instead, focus on the next level of deals — not doorbusters, but items that are a significant discount. There’s a better chance they will be available and they are almost always available online.
Shop with a buddy
If you insist on going to the stores on Black Friday and you are hell-bent on going to a big retailer (Kohl’s, Macy’s, Walmart, Target, etc.), shop with a friend.
Not only can you find the deals quicker, giving you a better chance of getting everything on your list, but one person can get in the checkout line while the other is shopping. The lines in the big stores are incredibly long — you could spend hours waiting just to pay for your deals.
Instead, after shopping for a bit, have one person get in line while the other person grabs the last few items on the list. This will get you out of the store and on to the next location quicker!
Use incentives strategically
Many of the Black Friday sales include special promotions, like $15 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 you spend at Kohl’s, rewards points through loyalty programs, and gift card with purchase offers.
If you take advantage of one of these promotions, make sure you are strategic when you redeem them. For instance, if you have $90 in Kohl’s Cash, be smart and purchase something:
- On sale
- With a coupon code
- And that you actually need — either for yourself or a gift
Take note of the redemption period and expiration dates so you don’t miss out.
Get help from experts!
You should never have to navigate Black Friday alone. Let us help! Here are three ways the Frugal Living NW team can help you get some serious deals:
Subscribe to our special Christmas deals email — You’ll get a selection of our favorite deals every day or so sent to your inbox.
Join our FREE Best Christmas Deals Facebook group — You’ll see the very best price drops and deals from primarily Amazon in your Facebook feed every day.
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