Black Friday shopping is right around the corner and is starting online much sooner. The past few years, we’ve shared the split personalities in this house regarding Black Friday. Alex is a loather and Cassie is a lover (as long as it doesn’t mess with her Thanksgiving!) and so we bring the best of both worlds into this Ultimate Black Friday Guide with dozens of shopping tips.
What Makes this the Ultimate Black Friday Guide?
We’ve written several articles on Black Friday shopping and they still apply to each and every year! We have picked up several nuggets over the years and so no matter whether you love or loathe the event, here’s how to get through it with success!
We have combined much of this information into one post and here’s what we will cover in this post:
- The two best places to hang out on Black Friday
- Are the deals on Black Friday really deals
- What we normally buy on Black Friday
- Where will we be on Black Friday 2017?
- The steps to ensure Black Friday success
- Black Friday tips, tricks and hacks including:
- FREE $25 cash back for shopping online
- Discounted gift cards to shop with
- FREE gift cards!
- Painful Black Friday memories
- 6 reasons to stay home
- 10 reasons to hate Black Friday
- Black Friday timeline, downloads and planning tools
- The secrets to find the best deal on anything
- Holiday shopping strategies
- The place to find all of the deals!!
As you can tell, there are a lot of things we have to say about Black Friday! We hope these tips will help you this season!
Now on with the Ultimate Black Friday guide!
The Two Best Places to Hang Out on Black Friday
First, there are two fantastic places to hang out on Black Friday. Shhh.. don’t tell anyone, but Amazon and Kohls have consistently been the best Black Friday stores to get great deals, and high quality items all at the same time for years!
Amazon is meeting and beating nearly every deal out there. Plus, with ways to earn cash back and earn Amazon gift cards, it is a fantastic way to save just a little more.
With that, Amazon is having their own version of Black Friday online going on now. They are offering some really awesome deals in every department for the whole week. We suggest heading over to the Black Friday page on Amazon HERE. The deals are changing constantly and fast. Bookmark this page and refer to it all week. So when you find your item on sale, it might just be the best deal to grab!
Head to the Amazon Black Friday 2017 deals HERE
The second best place to be on Black Friday is Kohls! This is where we get amazing deals for the family on clothing and winter wear. Not so much the electronics (however, these would be higher quality than many of the other stores in this department, just limited selection), but the clothing deals!
In fact, I have already finished this year as Kohls started their Black Friday deals last night. I bought our 13-year old a pair of $80 boots for $17, with free pickup at my local Kohls. It is available for pickup now! EASY PEASY! I may also grab a few more towels and throw out our ragged ones during this sale.
Kohls is best because you can beat Amazon’s prices by a lot with the coupon stacking and Kohls cash! I can’t beat their prices anywhere else! Plus, online shopping is so easy, especially with the free shipping for the sale, or free in-store pickup. My daughter needed boots now, and I have them now for a killer price!
Head to the Kohls Black Friday 2017 deals HERE
In the end, these two places will likely fulfill all of your Black Friday needs, and you never have to leave home.
Don’t forget to combine these deals with cashback and either free or discounted gift cards.
According to CNN, NBC, Wall Street Journal and More, The Black Friday “deals” aren’t really “deals at all…and here’s why
Amazon is not only great for the deals, but a GREAT place to compare prices and read reviews on those deals at other stores. We love this cross-checking idea, because to be honest, the quality of the products sold on Black Friday has actually been identified as lower quality produced merchandise for that sales season.
This is especially the case for electronics. The larger retailers like Walmart and Target have the volume to be able to make a separate, mass and fast manufacturing of many electronic items to be sold for super cheap….and that is because they are super cheap. It’s not the same quality and so it can often be a not-so-wise investment in the long-term.
We have had personal experience with this multiple frustrating times. For example:
- Many years ago, we bought a DVD player on Black Friday. It was cheap and it was one of the worst investments we have made as it was total junk.
- Last year, we bought our son an electronic crane toy from Toys R Us last year. It didn’t work the second we set it up! We bought it for $20, but similar toys were selling for over $100, and there was a good reason. It was a Black Friday junk sale.
- One year, we bought video, touch-screen off brand MP3 players for our older kids. They were a killer deal at only $16 each! Christmas was fun with the surprise element of a personal, video MP3 player – but the second we opened them was they second they stopped working.
- Have you ever bought the $4 pj sets from Walmart on Black Friday? Have you compared the quality to the similar sets outside of the Black Friday sales at Walmart or even to other retailers? There is a huge difference.
However, low-quality pjs vs. low quality electronics are also a big difference. We are fine in low quality pjs, even if for a much shorter time of use than higher quality clothing. But electronics are a much more difficult “bad deal” to swallow. And Black Friday returns are a nightmare. We have learned our lesson far too many times!
We use extreme caution now.
In fact, our theories and experience have proven to be true! CNN Money even wrote an article about the electronics sold by the big retailers on Black Friday saying, “If you’re fine buying a TV that won’t last until next year’s Black Friday, I guess that’s ok.”
The Wall Street Journal also explains this in their article, “The Dirty Secret of Black Friday Discounts.” You can find similar articles from reputable news sources on this topic all over the web! It’s really no secret or theory nowadays!
In our journey of being “thrifty,” it hasn’t included the word “cheap.” It means being wise and responsible with your money. That often translates into a “good deal on gently used or killer deal on brand new, but great quality.”
To help you decide if something is decent or good quality and whether you are buying on Amazon or not, they have the best source of genuine customer reviews of products. And if you can’t find a review of it, perhaps it is because it is an electronic “derivative” made just for Black Friday as this NBC article points out, thus you might want to reconsider that deal.
And while you are at it, you can do what we do and find the items in the ads you want from any store, but then double check the prices on Amazon and have a decent chance of nabbing the same or better deal.
So just what do we buy on Black Friday?
Now don’t get us wrong, we take advantage of Black Friday deals, but they are few and far between each more each year after disappointing purchases.
Rarely do we buy anything for Christmas during the Black Friday sales.
We use the Black Friday sales to restock our utensils, cutlery, dishes, small appliances, towels, pillows and other household items. Some are low quality, thus the cheap annual replacement (especially when some of the utensils will get eaten by the garbage disposal anyway), but some are decent quality for a great price. It is just a matter of checking those reviews – which brings us back to Amazon. Most of our purchases are made from Kohls for these items, so the quality is actually decent.
Where will we be on Black Friday 2017?
So where will we be this Black Friday? Our favorite overall physical store – our local Kroger grocery store (Smiths). Yes, we will be going to Smiths at 5am on Black Friday – it is a super store with groceries and homegoods (like a super Walmart, but on a much smaller scale). Our grocery budget has survived because of this amazing store (we don’t live anywhere near an Aldi’s, but we hear this is pretty sweet grocery store too). Between the killer coupon deals, the markdowns and the amazingly priced selection of organic and natural foods, this is our second home.
We are going on Black Friday to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the day, along with free coffee, doughnuts and OJ. Plus, they are handing out free gift cards to the first 100 customers in $5-$100 amounts. It is just for fun and see what gift cards we get and what grocery deals we can find that day!
You can call us weird, but this sounds like a fun shopping day!
With all of that, it’s time to share some practical tips for shopping in store for the Black Friday 2017 deals:
Now here’s the fun part! We have given you a bunch of information to chew on before even getting to the tips and articles for shopping on Black Friday. We love to shop on Black Friday (well, I love to!). It is fun to experience the shopping. I refuse to shop on Thanksgiving, but thankfully my favorite physical store (Kohls) starts online way early.
We have shared with you three articles for overall Holiday Shopping and How To Help Your Budget Survive. We recommend reading up on these as much of it applies to actual Black Friday shopping.
Many of you are gearing up and are preparing for that long awaiting day – Black Friday! We know the thrill of finding that amazing deal, the rewarding feeling of knowing that all that work paid off (you got the item!) and the misery of expending all that energy to have been beaten out by that person you were standing behind for all those hours before! These tips are dedicated to you – you dedicated shopper – to those that will stand in line for hours – freezing off your extremities with your one goal in mind – to save as much as you can on that fateful day! We wanted to provide you with a quick list of tips and tricks you can use this week to maximize your savings!
Here are the steps to ensure Black Friday Success
Call the stores that have that item and ask the following questions:
- What is your return policy on items from your Black Friday sale? Also, find out if there will be such things as restocking fees, or a short window of returning deadline. You will want to know this to prevent buyer’s remorse on spending for something in the moment and later find out the return policy is not in your favor.
- Will you be accepting competitor’s prices or ads if I find a lower price, whether on Friday or at a later date if that item goes even lower at your store or a competitor?
- Will all of the stores doors open at opening time on Friday and will there be specific doors that I should line up at? By asking this question, you could prevent much unnecessary frustrations on Friday morning! We have stood in the wrong line only to find we were further back than even fathomable all because we assumed the person in front of us was correct about the line (who got it from the person in front of them and so on….). Also, stores like Walmart will be open all night and customers can wait in the store. Find this out too!
- Will you be handing out tickets outside for the ad items based on whose in line first? Or will it be line up and run in? The reason why is many retailers like Best Buy are handing out tickets for items based on whose in line first. They will go through the line from the beginning and give the number of tickets as for each item in the store. In this case, the line will probably start forming Thanksgiving evening (or even sooner). Just be sure that the store you are planning to hit will not have “awarded” all of the tickets before you even get there in the wee hours of the morning.
- How many will they have in stock? The ad oftentimes states the stores will have no less than a certain number, but its useful to ask prior to the day of the sale whether the store will have just the minimum or additional. This will help you determine your “risk factor” and how early you will need to get into line to get your item.
- Where in the store will those items be located on Friday? Depending on the store, if they are open on Thanksgiving, you might be able to walk the isles and scope out all the locations of the products you are looking to purchase. We did this one year specifically for some of our sons toys and we were able to maximize and get everything we planned to get. You might be able to ask many of these questions if you are already in the store during this time.
- Will you have a map of the store where all the deals will be that I can download or print from somewhere? This bit of information can be extremely helpful to you! Walmart (among other stores) has provided a “deals map” for the morning of the sale.
The day before the sale, the real pressure starts to mount. Make sure to follow these tips:
- Pull those ads out of the newspapers
- Find the stores and products you wanted to buy and circle them – then write out a clearly written list and staple it on the front of the ad. This saves you loads of time on Friday a.m. to not have to flip through the pages while running through the store. On your list, make the extra notes that you discovered in the days leading up to this, like next to the item on your list, show where each item is supposed to be located based on your research and any additional notes. If the store does have a “deals map,” print this off, make notes and staple it to your ad!
- Determine opening times – If you are hitting multiple stores, you will need to be very slick about your plan and strategize as to where to go first!
- Check online – On Thanksgiving evening, before you hit the stores dark and early in the morning (will not be bright for quite a while:), you just might find that the retailer has started their Black Friday sale online the evening before and you might just luck out and get the items you wanted, sleep in and stay warm! That would be the best news!
- Charge your cell phones – There’s nothing worse than being in line with hours to go to only realize your cell phone is about ready to die and your fellow Black Friday-ers are going to lose contact with you in minutes! Make sure you are charged and ready to coordinate your buying!
The time has come! Tips for Black Friday:
- Shop with a partner – Find a partner to shop with so that you can maximize your time – either go into one store together and head in opposite directions if you are buying multiple items in a store, or, as soon as the store opens, one gets in line immediately and one gets the item. This will save you potentially hours of time! Checking out is the worst part of the morning. But by doing this, you could hit the store that opens at 4 am, be out quickly and hit the 5 am store, etc.!
- Assign one person the navigator spot back at home – Online retailers are getting pretty savvy and want your business. If you need someone to watch the kids or just have the manpower do do this, leave one person at home on the computer watching for those online stores for those products you are looking for. You might be surprised that you can get many of the supplies online without you even needing to stand in line!
- Shop early – As the sale times have usually ended by 11 am.
- Take the ads with you – In cases of price discrepancy or in case the retailer will match competitor’s ads, its always easier and faster to have your own ads to confirm that price you have been waiting to pay.
- Look for cash registers in smaller departments – You may find yourself having everything you want to buy in your hands within five minutes of entering the store only to find yourself leaving the store hours later after staying in line. Although a bit fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, we have found jewelry, cosmetic, and appliance registers with shorter lines often to help get us out of the store quicker and on to the next store’s sales.
- Shop with cash or prepaid/set budgeted amount from a debit card. We say this only from experience in our pre-thrifty days as Black Friday was good on deals but awful on the bank account. It was a contributor to our heavy debt load. But it doesn’t have to be!
More Black Friday Tips, Tricks and Hacks
Along with all of the information we have shared above, we have written several articles in the past about Black Friday. We wanted to round them all up in one post so you can find them quick! Just click on the article to be taken right to it!
Before you do any shopping online – be sure that you are taking advantage of these cash back offers for any store. It is one extra click and you will get $25 between them! It’s not everyday that you can take advantage of the amazing deals on Black Friday AND get paid. 🙂
The other tip along with getting paid is to buy discount gift cards before you shop – whether you intend to shop online or in-store. In fact, buying discounted gift cards can save you 10-35% before you even take advantage of the deals. Plus, by trying the service, you will get a $5 to spend free on any gift card for your first purchase.
The next tip will allow you to have a free $5-$15 to spend this year, but it really is intended to get you a nice cushion for Christmas next year by starting this now! In fact, I worked it hard and got to spend $500 for FREE for Christmas. Join now and earn points.
And the rest of the articles related to Black Friday shopping!
Cassie’s personality is one that really does enjoy Black Friday shopping, not only for carefully calculated deals, but also for the atmosphere and fun of it! But there are tips and strategies to make the most of your Black Friday shopping experience so it doesn’t become Sad Friday. Check out those tips and shopping strategies in the article shared below!
- The Secrets To Finding The Best Deals On Anything
- Holiday Shopping Strategies Part 1
- Holiday Shopping Strategies Part 2
- Holiday Shopping Strategies Part 3
Where to find the Black Friday 2017 ad scans and deals?
Finally, if you are one of those – like Cassie – that really enjoys Black Friday shopping, you want to see the ad scans and deals and make your plan!
We use the resources from Savings.com HERE for the early and current ad scans and use the coupons they have listed to help our deals become even lower!
So what personality are you? Do you love or loathe it Black Friday?