Black Friday Preparation – Ads are your Treasure Map
No doubt, Black Friday can be a grueling experience. Deciding the store where you want to visit first, being bombarded by piles of boxes with sale tags, wondering if you are getting the best deal, can all be overwhelming. Preparation is the key. Treasure hunts are best when you have a map and the right gear. Your Black Friday map is the pile of advertisements that arrive with your day-before-Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving day newspaper. In recent years, these ads have been “leaked” to give you more planning time and whet your appetite. A great new site is Black Friday info. This site lists Black Friday ads by stores, by products, and with scans of the actual ads. Still, it may be easier for you to spread out print ads out and compare prices in front of you.
If you have particular items for which you have been yearning, those will be the first you want to seek out. At the black friday site, you can simply search for those items.
Here is a list of items that typically have deep discounts:
- Computer monitors (I bought a 20″ Samsung monitor with a list price of over $250 for $60)
- TVs (be careful that the model you choose has all the features you want)
- All-in-one fax/copier/printers (you can get $150 models for as little as $40)
- Laptop computers (I’ll discuss the pitfalls of this one)
- Blu-ray or DVD movies
- Home theater components (Blu-ray Disc players, DVD burners, DVD players, and home theater sound systems)
- Portable music and media devices
- GPS navigation systems
- MEMORY – flash cards and SD memory cards for digital cameras and external hard drives (this may not be what will get you out early on Black Friday, but you’ll want to grab some for stocking stuffers–external 1 TB drives can be half off or more)
- Accessories – computer keyboards, mouses (mice?), fans for laptops, etc. (again, great stocking stuffers)
For goodies other than electronics, you can find:
- Toys, toys and every kind of toy and game
- Fine jewelry
- Jewelry boxes
- Winter coats (great deals there)
- Cashmere, and nice sweaters
- Gloves and winter accessories
- Those cool “manly” “gift tools” like flashlights, charging stations, and gift games for adults
- Holiday themed gifts
And so much more. The key here is to prioritize. What is the item you most want, that you wouldn’t buy if it were more expensive? That is the item you seek first in the ads. Be open to the fact that while perusing the ads, you may be surprised by how cheap another item is, and that you may want to make that item your priority. Also, if you don’t have a product in mind, you can still check out the ads and let them inspire you.
With your top items in mind, start looking through the ads. Whether you choose to look through the ads on Black Friday info or you are looking through the paper ads, look at the ads for your #1 item product. If you register at Black Friday Info, you can add items to of your wish list. For print ads, get a big fat pen and circle the items. A list of stores and prices on a pad works well so you don’t keep saying “Now, is this cheaper than that other store…” Be sure to note the item’s model number. It is usually listed near the photo of the item or at the end of the product description. Be aware, that if you have a print ad in hand when you arrive at a store, they will often match prices with other store’s ads on identical items. (Be careful that the price isn’t a doorbuster that is only available until a certain time of day…the other store may not match those prices, but you can ask.) Circle or list other products of interest so you don’t forget to pick them up while you are in the store.
Remember, during the holidays many stores carry items outside of their normal stock. You may find the best deal for an electronic device at Walmart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, or even Home Depot, etc., or you may find a TV at Staples. Check out the margins of the ads for accessories that make good stocking stuffers and co-worker gifts.
If you are getting so early in the morning, you will want to be sure that you make the most of it. If your friends can’t join you, you may want to play Santa Clause and offer to pick up some of their choices. One year I bought 4 DVD recorders for $39 (regularly $125).
Another note…if you are buying presents that may be returned, the receiver will probably only get credit for the sale price on the item, so they’ll know what you paid (in case you are worried about looking cheap).
IMPORTANT! When looking through ads, be sure to check:
- Prices that expire after a certain hour (“doorbusters”).
- “Limited Quantity” items (don’t think you can’t get them…you just have to strategize)
- MAIL-IN REBATES vs. in-store discounts (Today, you can apply for rebates online. The store may give you a debit card for the rebate dollars and it can be hard to spend your rebate later.)
- Write down and compare model numbers of items. (Some items may seem like another model but not have some key features.)
- Any computer compatibility. (I picked up a great 1 TB external hard drive that doesn’t work with Macs…dang!)
- Items that are “one per customer.”
Once armed with a list of desired treasures, you’ll want to be sure these items have all the features that you really want.
Tomorrow…knowing when it is a good enough deal to brave Black Friday.