If you’re not hacking Black Friday, you’re clearly doing it all wrong. After all, it’s not Black Friday 2007 anymore, where the only way to save money was to set the alarm for an ungodly hour and go fight the unwashed masses for that last cheap 55″ television.
The game has changed, and so have the strategies and hacks you should employ on Black Friday weekend. Here are nine Black Friday hacks that will not only save you money, but in many cases, will allow you to enjoy time with your friends and family, and still score a killer deal.
1. Know Which Products Are Cheaper Closer to Christmas
Don’t be fooled by the ads, not all Black Friday deals are created equal, and most are NOT the cheapest prices you’ll find this year. Many popular retailers, selling electronics, toys, apparel and gift ideas will actually have cheaper prices closer to Christmas.
Based on the coupons and deals that we get here at Rather-Be-Shopping every December over the past 16 years, below are the absolute best days to shop this year in order to maximize your savings.
Christmas Toys: Saturday, December 12th.
Stocking Stuffers: Wednesday, December 9th.
Apparel and Shoes: Monday, December 14th. (Free Shipping Day)
HDTV’s: Weekend of December 4 – 6th.
Tools & Hardware: Friday, December 11th.
Laptops/ChromeBooks: Saturday, December 12th.
PS4 and Xbox: December 12th-15th.
Winter Apparel: Monday, December 14th.
Jewelry/Wedding Bands: December 4 – 25th.
Fitness Gear: Monday, December 7th.
Kitchen Stuff: Monday, December 14th.
In most cases, these days will definitely give you “better than Black Friday” prices.
For more info, check out our article: The Absolute BEST Days to Shop Between Now and Christmas to Score a Deal
2. Dumb & Smart Black Friday Buys
First, the Dumb Buys:
Name Brand (Quality) Televisions. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Sure there are always some screaming deals on TV’s on Black Friday. The problem is the brands you’ll find on sale are typically unrecognizable. Along with the 3rd tier brands are questionable specs and quality.
If you’re a college student and looking for a disposable TV from Best Buy for your dorm room you’ll want to head out BF morning. If you’re looking for a quality TV that will hold up for the long run, you’ll want to look for deals right after Christmas through February.
The reasoning is new models are typically released in late January at the Consumer Electronics Shows in Vegas. Plus, sellers always offer sweet deals around the Super Bowl. Both of these reasons will help you score a sweet deal on a high quality brand like Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic.
Christmas Toys Don’t buy on Black Friday. Instead, wait until 9-10 days before Christmas as that’s when prices are notoriously lower than on BF weekend. Sure, you might see some deals sprinkled in the Black Friday ads but none as good if you wait a couple weeks. Also, shop at Costco for toy deals, more on that later.
Fitness Equipment. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Always wait until January to shop for fitness equipment. Retailers notoriously offer some great sales and incentives to folks looking to get in shape as a New Year’s resolution.
Look for products like elliptical machines, treadmills, and weight machines to be offered at up to 50% off in early January at Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Winter Apparel. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Deals will NOT be abundant in late November as retailers take advantage of a cold and captive audience for jackets, hoodies, boots, and parkas.
When it comes to scoring deals on apparel, the general rule is that it is always the most expensive during the season it is being worn. Wait until the last few weeks of winter and you’ll easily save 50% off that next coat or pair of boots.
Large Appliances. Don’t buy on Black Friday. New model refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens hit the sales floor in September and October.
Because of this, you might be able to find a good deal on last year’s models on Black Friday but new models are typically not discounted very much. Smaller kitchen appliances like microwaves, blenders, and mini fridges will be on sale at Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Tools and Hardware. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Unless you absolutely need them, power tools are a much better deal during the few weeks leading up to Father’s Day.
Our research has shown that Father’s Day coupons and sales on cordless drills, table saws, routers, and the like, are 30% better than Black Friday weekend. If you can afford to wait you’ll save some significant money.
DSLR Cameras. Don’t buy on Black Friday. Buy your high-end DSLR camera in February after the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. You’ll be able to score a sweet deal on last seasons model as retailer discount them heavily in order to make room for the newest and greatest models.
Also, if a slick little ‘point and shoot’ digital camera is in your future, then there will be plenty of deals to pick from on Black Friday.
And, of course, the smart buys…
The Smart Black Friday Buys:
3rd Tier Televisions. Buy on Black Friday. Many of your door-buster BF deals are on 3rd tier HDTVs, also known as “off brand” televisions. Last year saw some pretty crazy deals. 42″ HDTV’s in the $150 range.
I have actually seen a couple predictions for Black Friday 2019 that included a 50″ 4K TV in the $125-$150 range. But be prepared to settle for brands you have never heard of in most cases.
A Best Buy employee actually just told me that most of the door-buster TV’s they get for Black Friday are specifically made for that day and are not of good enough quality to stock all year long. Yes, the deals are often amazing but know what you are getting. Buyer beware.
Clearance Apparel. Buy on Black Friday. Retailers really start slashing their fall clothing lines every Black Friday weekend. We are talking like 65% to 75% off at stores like Old Navy, American Eagle, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Lands’ End.
My wife and I regularly stock up for our 3 kids on Black Friday. We’ll buy a size or 2 up and store until the following autumn. With savings in the 75-80% off range it just makes sense.
Plus, if you prefer to stay at home on Black Friday and sleep in, just shop on Cyber Monday when you’ll see the best online coupons of the year at online clothing and apparel retailers.
Budget Laptops (Chrome Books). Buy on Black Friday. Last BF we saw quality budget laptops from Dell ($150 at Best Buy) and the 14″ Chromebook for under $100. Look for similar, or better, deals this year.
These systems usually come equipped with a 14″ or 15″ screen and a dual core processor and RAM in the 2-4 GB range. If you’re not doing any serious gaming, video editing, or going to be running a bunch of programs at once, they will definitely suffice.
Tablets. Buy on Black Friday. Tablets from brands like Samsung, Microsoft, and Lenovo have been a major draw in recent years and the deals have been pretty amazing.
This year look for the Samsung Galaxy 4 tablet to drop to below $80 on Black Friday (currently $149.99 at Best Buy.com). Also, Amazon.com will be running big deals on their Kindle Fire tablet. Black Friday is an excellent day to score a deal. Also, look for the iPad Air Pro to be $100 off at Best Buy.
Apple Products (Except the Newest iPhone). Buy on Black Friday. In 2018, there was only one day when Apple products were on sale almost across the board. Any guesses? Yes, it was Black Friday.
The discounts were modest but definitely noteworthy: $41 off the iPad Air and iPad 2, $21 off the iPod touch, $101 off the MacBook Air, $101 off the MacBook Pro with Retina display and $101 off the popular iMac.
Just be sure to not shop at the Apple Store as deals at stores like Walmart and Best Buy will be better.
Look for both retailers to offer significant gift cards with an Apple purchase to entice Black Friday shoppers.
Home/Kitchen Goods & Decor. Buy on Black Friday. Deals are always abundant on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Great time to stock up if you’re not brand specific.
You might not find a screaming deal on All Clad and Calphalon but cheaper brands will really have their prices slashed.
Xbox One and PS4 Games. Buy on Black Friday. According to many gaming websites the single best day to pick up a screaming deal on new and older games is on Black Friday weekend.
Look for new titles to drop by 20-30% and older titles to really be cleared out and sold for up to 75% off. Also, if you are cool with pre-owned titles Gamestop will probably offer the same offer as last year of “Buy 2 used products, get 1 Free”.
Perhaps you’d rather avoid the Black Frenzy frenzy altogether, keep reading…
3. Stay in Bed and STILL Score a Deal
Perhaps my favorite way to hack Black Friday and score a deal is to shop on eBay the few days after BF.
The reason is simple, yet often overlooked. Many “wanna-be entrepreneurs” will stand in line for hours, or days, to snatch up the VERY limited number of door-buster deals. They’ll then try to turn a quick profit by placing their loot on eBay for a quick sale via an auction.
But those familiar with supply & demand realize the market gets a bit saturated and thus you can buy the item for just a fraction more than if you stood in line for hours.
This works best for small electronics, laptops, HDTVs, Blu-ray movies, external hard drives, flash drives, and smartphone accessories.
4. Early Bird Gets the Worm
By “early bird”, I’m not talking about being the first one through the doors on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
I’m talking about shopping on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Black Friday and scoring a deal. In many cases, you can get the same deal you’d get by camping in a ridiculously long line on Thanksgiving or the Friday after.
For example, I was recently talking to a loyal Home Depot shopper and she informed me that she shops their right before every Black Friday and scores some amazing savings.
She said they put Black Friday “teasers” in the aisles towards the front of the store and last year she got a mini-fridge for $98 (regularly $159) and the year before that she scored a Ryobi Drill set for $99 (regularly $149).
Skip the crowd, shop early, and get the same deal as Black Friday shoppers. Besides Home Depot, look for these Black Friday teasers in Walmart, Target, Michaels, Office Depot, Best Buy, and Toys R Us.
5. Say “Alexa, What Are Your Black Friday Deals?”
Try this before November 23rd and Alexa will tell you to be patient.
Ask her on November 24th and she’ll tell you about a bunch of exclusive Black Friday deals from Amazon that’ll save you a wad of cash.
You’ll even be able to buy the item with your voice and not have to waste an ounce of energy. If you’re like me, and still in a turkey and pumpkin pie comma, you’ll appreciate this.
6. Abandon your Virtual Shopping Cart
During the week before Black Friday this year, try filling your virtual shopping cart with merchandise, then logout of your account.
By doing so, in many cases, it will trigger an automated coupon sent to your inbox pleading for you to come back and complete your purchase with the coupon. Coupons are often for free shipping, 10%, 15% and even 20% off your purchase.
Here are 17 popular retailers that have been known to send you a coupon after you abandon your cart. The key is to register with the site so they have your email address. Give it a try this year.
7. Shop Online…Then Hit Up Live Chat
When shopping online the week of Black Friday, and all the way through Cyber Monday (November 26th), you’re bound to run into a situation where the price, or shipping charge, is a little higher than you were expecting.
It’s times like this where you’ll be happy you stumbled upon this article. Simply hit up the live chat feature that many online retailers employ and politely ask the operator for a coupon for free shipping or a percent off your purchase.
For more info, see: All the Popular Online Retailers With Live Chat Operators Who Hand Out Coupons
8. Arm Your Smartphone Before Black Friday
If you own a smartphone, these are the apps that will save you money and time on Black Friday:
- Black Friday @ Deal News (iOS, Android): Use this free app to get all the breaking Black Friday ads directly on your Apple or Android device. You can even get alerts for when new Black Friday ad are released. Use the app to find the best deals early on, then plan your shopping trip accordingly.
- ShopSavvy (iOS, Android): Use this free app to quickly scan the product’s barcode in-store and find out where it may be sold cheaper on Black Friday, including online competitors.
- DealNews (iOS, Android): On Black Friday, and the days leading up to it, you’ll be able to use their free app to quickly check out the day’s 300 hottest deals, vetted by deal experts.
- Amazon App (iOS, Android): Use the Amazon shopping app to do real-time Amazon price comparisons while you’re standing in the aisle on BF morning. Why? Well, according to the Krazy Koupon Lady, “Over 17% of items on Black Friday will actually cost MORE than their current selling price on Amazon.com. Don’t get suckered.”
It’s time to use technology to make Black Friday a little easier to navigate. The above apps will help you do just that.
9. Shopping for Toys? Head to Costco
When most shoppers think about buying Christmas toys, they think Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us. But when it comes to finding the best prices on popular toys this year, your first stop should be at Costco.
In Christmases past, they have consistently beat the price of the competition on popular brands like NERF, Melissa & Doug, Fisher-Price, KidKraft, Disney, Hello Kitty, Star Wars, and Maxim to name a few.
Don’t believe me? Use the Amazon app to do a quick price comparison at Costco, you’ll find their prices to be 15-40% cheaper than Amazon. While they might not have the largest selection in the world, the popular toys that they do offer are consistently cheaper than the competition.
In the end, remember that most Black Friday deals will be available online this year. The only exception is the five door-buster HDTV’s that Best Buy and Walmart will have really cheap for those willing to camp-out for a couple days. Totally not worth it, as those 3rd tier models are garbage.
I was even told by a Best Buy employee that they’re made specifically for Black Friday 2019 with inferior parts. So in the end, in terms of quality, they may not be worth the cheap price tag.
By Kyle James
Photo credit to m01229.