How To Shop Black Friday Like a Financial Genius, According to Money Experts
Given the fact that Black Friday is days away, now would be a great time to start fine tuning your shopping strategy. And if you were planning on going into the biggest shopping event of the year without a game plan (brave), you might want to reconsider. With the barrage of “door-busting” deals dropping left and right, losing control is easier than you’d think. If you’re not careful, you can end up starting December with a mountain of crap you don’t need, zero holiday gifts, and a scary credit card balance.
When done strategically, though, cyber week shopping can end up saving you even more money throughout the rest of the year—and you might even be able to knock out the bulk of your holiday gift shopping. To find out how it’s done, and help you shop Black Friday the finance-savvy way, we asked finance experts for guidance.
First things first, make a list
Instead of deciding what to buy the day the deals drop, Michelle Griffith, wealth advisor for U.S. Consumer Wealth Management at Citi, says setting a budget and making a list of the products that interest you or the people you want to shop for, should be a key part of your Black Friday strategy. “Have gift ideas associated with each loved one on your list,” she says, “This reduces browsing, which can lead to overspending.”
Once you’ve zeroed in on the products you want to shop, monitor the prices leading up to cyber week to make sure you’re getting the best deal and make informed purchasing decisions. “Price shop now, to make sure that whatever deal you’re seeing isn’t an impulse buy, and one you can compare to its regular price,” recommends Emily Irwin, managing director and senior director of advice at Wells Fargo’s Wealth & Investment Management.
Stack the savings with cash back and store credit cards
“The sale price is really just the beginning,” says Summer Hull, director of travel at The Points Guy, “This is the best time of the year to shop, not just because things go on sale, but because of all the other savings and incentives you can stack on.” Hull recommends checking your credit card company for any cash back or statement credit opportunities, “For example, I’ve seen offers on credit cards for spending $100 at Best Buy on the card and getting a $25 statement credit. So check there before swiping.”
If you’re doing the bulk of your Black Friday shopping online, Hull says to check sites like cashbackmonitor.com to see if there are any cash back offers available for your chosen retailer. The site will pull up all of the cash back portals and their rates, giving you the most bang for your buck. “Cash back rates might range from 1-3 percent on an average day at big retailers, but they can spike to 10-15 percent, or more, during the big shopping days,” she says, which can lead to even bigger savings. Our senior commerce editor, Gina Vaynshteyn, uses Rakuten, which is a similar service (download it as an extension, and it'll automatically apply cash back to your purchase). "I'll get anywhere from $50 to $100 every holiday season in returns—Rakuten just sends a check," she says.
And while it doesn’t always guarantee an extra discount, signing up for brands’ newsletters and text messages is a super easy way to make sure you’re not missing out on additional savings. “You might be able to get early access to the sale, which of course increases your likelihood of being able to get the item before it sells out,” explains Irwin, “or even an additional promo.”
Be mindful about big ticket items
“[Black Friday] is a great time to think about buying new electronics—to the extent you have a need,” advises Irwin. Pricier items like computers, TVs, and smartwatches tend to go on sale during cyber week, and oftentimes have an extended return policy, making it a great time to get one as a gift if you’re shopping for someone special. While the temptation to splurge is strong on Black Friday, remember that it’s only worth it if you can actually pay it off. “If you can’t pay it off in full when you get your statement, then it’s probably not a good deal,” says Irwin.“Because you may be incurring higher interest charges on your card—you may have saved 10 percent or even 30 percent, but if you’re paying upwards of 19 percent on a monthly basis, that’s going to eat up whatever savings you made purchasing that item on Black Friday.”
The experts say you should monitor the prices to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. “My philosophy for high-ticket items is watch and wait,” says Griffith, “Avoid paying full price when possible. Also, search the web before buying. If you find a lower price, ask for a price match. Many retailers will meet or beat competitor pricing and save you money.”
Best big ticket item deals
Originally $480, now $300
“Last year, we waited until Black Friday to buy a new TV, and this year we’ve been waiting for a new vacuum,” shares Hull. The internet is crawling with vacuum deals during cyber weekend, so if a new vacuum is on your wishlist, this cordless one by Shark is a great one to add to cart. The lightweight stick vacuum doubles as a hand vacuum (we love a 2-in-1 appliance), and it has a flexible wand that allows you to vacuum under furniture and hard to reach places with minimal fuss. It even folds down to half its height for easy storage.
Originally $274, now $179
If you’re a busy bee who struggles to find the time to clean, or a pet-owner who can’t keep up with your dog or cat’s constant shedding, a robot vacuum is a total gamechanger. The iRobot Roomba has a 3-stage cleaning system designed to tackle dirt, dust, and hair from carpet and hardwood floors, and is equipped with an edge-sweeping brush for cleaner corners. And thanks to its suite of high-tech sensors, the Roomba quickly learns how to get around your space for the most advanced clean. Activate the Roomba with a tap on your smartphone or even schedule cleanings ahead of time for added convenience.
Originally $549, now $469
Everyone knows Apple products rarely get discounted, so if you’re in the market for new headphones for work or school, Black Friday is a great time to snag a pair while they’re on sale. The active noise canceling on the AirPods Max Headphones delivers a truly immersive listening experience, perfect for tuning out distractions and turning up your favorite focus playlist. Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking lets the music move as you do for surround sound in every situation. And the memory foam over-ear cushions deliver a comfortable fit you can wear for hours.
Originally $1,498, now $998
A TV and statement piece of wall art in one, ultra-modern appliance, Samsung’s Frame TV is the ultimate Black Friday investment. Designed to look like a real picture frame when not in use, the sleek flatscreen TV displays beautiful artworks by established and emerging artists, and can even be customized with your choice of Samsung’s bezels, or “picture frames,” to match your home decor style. 100 percent color volume gives viewers a vivid and bright display, while the screen’s matte finish helps reduce glare so you get peak picture quality any time of day.
Stock up on gifts for upcoming birthdays
“I have three children, and I tend to think about birthday gifts for their friends for the upcoming year,” says Irwin, “Whenever they say ‘mom I have a birthday party’ I can just pull it off the shelf in my house, so it’s also kind of a de-stressor.” Whether you’re looking for gifts for teens, teachers, or your foodie friend, stocking up on gift-ready items while they’re on sale will save you cash and a rushed trip to the mall (where you could end up spending even more while shopping under pressure).
Best birthday and holiday gift deals
Originally $38, now $27
Piecework jigsaw puzzles are a fail-proof gift idea, and the display-worthy packaging means you can skip the gift wrap. Right now, Piecework is offering up to 30 percent off of nearly everything on their website—so now’s the time to snag a few puzzles as emergency gifts. Their Garden Party Puzzle was made in collaboration with another W+G favorite, Anthropologie, and stars a vibrant, maximalist garden party tablescape that’ll transport you to springtime. Plus, every puzzle has its own curated playlist to help set the mood while you work.
If you’re buying ahead for someone special, this Zodiac Necklace by Quince makes for a thoughtful, personalized gift. Every star-studded necklace is specially handcrafted to order using gold vermeil (which is sterling silver that’s been layered with 18k gold), and uses white sapphires to illustrate each constellation. At $60, these stunning necklaces are already a bargain, but starting on Thanksgiving Day, Quince will be dropping more limited-time deals for even more savings.
Originally $79, now $23
Available sizes: 6-11 (select sizes sold out)
Whether you’re shopping for a new parent or your sister-in-law—a pair of cozy, cushioned slippers are always a sound gift idea. Dearfoams happen to be a favorite of Oprah’s, which means we love them, too. The Fireside Slippers slide off and on with ease, and are made with 100 percent Australian sheepskin for maximum warmth during the winter months. So you never have to worry about sweaty feet, the slipper’s lining is breathable and moisture-wicking, making the Fireside Slippers a perfect home footwear choice all year round.
For your astrology-obsessed friends, you’ll want to have a couple of these Birthdate Candles on hand. There’s a candle scent for every birthdate, all developed by master perfumers to reflect the unique characteristics of your astrological sign. What’s more, every candle includes a deep-dive into your zodiac sign, and includes a full personality description, ruling number, ruling planet, tarot card, and a breakdown of your candle’s scent—right on the glass candle vessel. It’s the kind of gift your friends will cherish forever, and they can even wash and reuse the vessel once they’ve burned through the candle. Starting November 21, Birthdate will be offering 25 percent off, with the opportunity to earn extra savings when you shop their tiered sales, and free shipping on orders over $60.
Buy items you already use everyday
To avoid wasting your hard earned coin on flashy products that’ll sit untouched for the rest of the year, limit your personal shopping to items you actually use everyday. That could mean the face moisturizer you use every morning without fail, the bed sheets you love and sleep on every night, or even pantry staples, per Irwin. “We put chia seeds and flax seeds in our shakes every morning,” she explains, “I know what the price is throughout the year, and that they’re usually 25 to 30 percent off during Black Friday so I pick up flax seeds and chia seeds for January through March.” Genius.
Best everyday investments
Originally $190, now $133
Available sizes: 5-12 (select sizes sold out)
“My husband likes to replace his running shoes about every other month, so I stock up on running shoes for him throughout the year,” says Irwin. If you’re a runner or are shopping for someone who is, picking up a new pair of running shoes while they’re on sale is definitely a good idea. The Adidas Ultraboost 22s are meticulously tailored to the female foot, offering better protection against heel slip and blisters, while giving you softer cushioning and improved energy return (sneaker-speak for “bounce”) to help you achieve a perfect stride. What’s more, the durable, natural rubber outsole holds up as you crush your mile goals.
Colors: one color
Originally $139, now $111
Because you sleep on them everyday—and they’ll run you a pretty penny at regular price—bed sheets are a great buy during Black Friday sales. Not only are Brooklinen’s Classic Percale Sheets super soft, they have that crisp hotel feeling that keeps you cool and comfortable all night long. They also have a luxe, matte finish that looks as gorgeous as it feels. “I couldn’t love these more if I tried,” wrote one 5-star reviewer on Brooklinen’s site, “Truly just so soft and buttery. If you want silky soft comfort look no further!” They’re also a W+G favorite.
Originally $25, now $20
For its Early Black Friday Sale, Billie is offering 20 percent off any order over $20 with the code “SHOP20” at checkout. Making now a great time to stock up on razors, shaving cream, and accessories if you shave. Its Iconic Shave Trio Set includes its 5-blade Billie razor and magnetic holder, a Whipped Shave Cream, and its exfoliating Body Buffer that preps skin for shaving and helps prevent pesky ingrowns. Together, the Iconic Shave Trio is the secret to getting silky smooth, bump-free skin after every shave.
Originally $15, now $10
This Burt’s Bees Day Lotion has dermatologists’ seal of approval, over 8,000 5-star ratings on Amazon, and is 31 percent off. If you already know and love it (join the club), or are in the market for a new face moisturizer, this ought to be it. It uses a hydrating and soothing blend of rice extract and aloe vera to help nourish and calm sensitive skin while skin softening cotton extract helps replenish your skin’s moisture barrier to protect it from moisture-loss and potential irritants.
Originally $78, now $59
Available sizes: S-L
Socks are an everyday staple that you’ll never regret having more of. We love the multi-textured knit on these Marl socks, and the fun colorways they come in. The thoughtful blister tab and cushioned footbed make them lifesavers for long walks, exercise, and everyday wear alike. And the cotton blend material holds up after repeat washes! Plus, everything on the Bombas site is 20 percent off right now (with the code “BIGSAVE20”), which gives you an additional discount on top of the 5 percent savings you get when you buy a multipack.
Originally $34, now $27
According to Griffith, candles are also fair game during Black Friday, “These items are handy year-round and prices are attractive during this season,” she explains. For their pre-Black Friday sale, Anecdote Candles is offering 20 percent off site-wide through November 30 (no code required)—so you can stock up on candles to burn all year (or give as gifts) for a fraction of the regular price. My personal favorite? The Adulting Candle. Their sophisticated cashmere candle features notes of fig, sandalwood, and grapefruit and fills your space with that bougie hotel aroma.
Sizes available: XS-3XL
For its Black Friday sale on November 24 (which you can shop early if you sign up to the brand’s email list, hint hint), Parade is taking 30 percent off all orders, and offering bigger discounts the more you spend. Which means there’s no better time to stock up on their comfy sustainable underwear if you’re in need. Parade’s Dream Comfort Briefs are the perfect everyday underwear—they’re ultra-soft, stretchy, and feature a cooling mesh panel for added breathability. All you have to do is take you pick among their spectrum of bold and bright shades.
Originally $78, now $40
“I misplace my keys often,” says Griffith, “To help keep track of my keys and other items that are easily misplaced, I’d love to get a tracking device that can be easily put on my keychain.” Enter the Tile Mate Tracker. These super functional gadgets just make life easier, especially for those who are always on the go. Equipped with a 250 ft. Bluetooth range, they’ll save you hours tearing apart the house looking for that missing item. Just attach one to your keys, bag, or wallet, and monitor their location straight from your phone.
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