Black Friday tips and beyond

With Black Friday this week, there are many great deals at brick and mortar and online stores. However, before you shop, educate yourself. Don’t rush into getting each deal just because something is on sale and says it is X dollars off! Be sure that you really know if that item is a good deal. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine your Black Friday shopping list.

1) Is the item a good price?

Check prices of that item at other retailers. For regular items like groceries, supplies, office supplies, cleaners, etc., check your price list. Make sure you have at least three stores’ prices to know if something is a good deal. My price list mostly contains prices from our local grocery store, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Target and Sam’s Club (or Costco, depending on where you shop). See my post “Keeping a price list” for more information on creating your own price list.

For items you don’t buy on a regular basis, check sites like www.Amazon.com or www.PriceGrabber.com. This will give you an idea of the prices that identical or similar items are going for.

2) Is the item of good quality?

A good price does not always equal a good deal if the quality is less than desired. We are talking about maybe purchasing a Blu-Ray player. My husband saw a great deal in the Best Buy flier – one for $50. However, when he looked at the reviews, various people commented that this particular brand was slow.

So, check out the reviews. My favorite places to go are www.Amazon.com and www.cnet.com. CNet rates electronics products and has great video demos, too. If you are shopping for clothes or shoes, customer reviews on store websites can be helpful, too. Other customer’s comments will often tell you what size to buy, if an item holds up well, and if there have been any problems with shrinkage or fading.

For larger items you are looking at, check out buying guides. Family Circle and Real Simple magazines have great articles on specific products on their website as well as in their magazines. These guides contain tips on what to look for, types available, differences, price range, etc. Either search for “buying guide” or the particular item (like tablet computer, iron, vacuum) on their websites, and you will find great information. Shop Smart and Consumer Reports are also good sources of information, but you need a subscription to read their tips. See my post “Review: Shop Smart Magazine.”

3) Is it worth going to this store keeping in mind how many other places I plan to go to?

Make a plan for what stores you plan to go to and what items you are looking for at each store. Save those stores with the fewest items and lowest savings for last. This way you can focus on your big savings errands first.

4) Do I really need the item?

Keep in mind your monthly budget when planning your shopping. Just because something is a good deal doesn’t mean you have to get it now. Some things go on sale throughout the year and have coupons available often. For instance, if you already have enough toothpaste in your stockpile, use your money to purchase something else you need or want.

Feel free to comment here on any great deals you snag this year!

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