You know the deal: It’s that time of year when retailers advertise their best prices of the year.
But just because something is on “sale,” it doesn’t mean that it’s a good deal for you.
Now don’t get me wrong – I absolutely LOVE finding a great bargain, especially around the holidays. I’m always down for paying less, not more.
However, I encourage you to think about it this way: Retailers still have to make money on Black Friday. Yes, they lower their prices, but this is more about keeping you away from their competitors than it is about actually giving you the best deal possible. Their goal is to make a profit, not to save you money.
Is this to say you shouldn’t shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Of course not!
Like I said above, this is the time for the best prices of the year, but just because something is a good price, it doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.
Let’s take a closer look.
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5 Questions That Will Actually Save You Money on Black Friday
We’ve all seen the images.
Right at midnight, major retailers open their doors and throngs of people start rushing in, searching for the best deals, doorbusters, and sales. People stuff their carts with so many goodies, and even though the items are on sale, it’s clear that it’s still going to cost a small fortune.
Here’s the reality: Not all “deals” are worth it.
Again, I want to emphasize that retailers are in the business of making money. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are incredibly powerful marketing events that get consumers to open their wallets and spend more than they were planning on spending.
You can save money and get a good deal on Black Friday, but only if you are savvy in how you shop.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself this Black Friday and Cyber Monday that will help you save money and find the best deals possible:
1. Was I planning on buying this?
If the answer is, “No,” don’t buy it. It’s best to approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a game plan. Otherwise, FOMO (the fear of missing out) will get to you.
Here’s an example that’ll make it crystal clear: Are you going to buy a brand-new car just because the dealership marks it down $2,000? Unless you were already planning on buying a new car, the answer should be, “Of course not!” Sure, you might “save” money on the deal, but because you weren’t planning on buying a car, you’re actually losing money because you’re purchasing something you didn’t need to purchase.
Similarly, just because something is marked down for Black Friday, you’re not saving money if you purchase something you weren’t planning on purchasing. You’re spending more than you planned to spend.
In other words, create a game plan: Create a list of items you’re going to bargain hunt for, establish a budget for yourself, and stick to the plan!
2. Have I price-matched this?
Some retailers have higher markups than other retailers, so just because something is on sale, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best price out there. Most stores have a price-matching policy, even on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I encourage you to price-match everything you buy. If the retailer won’t match the price you’ve found, then go to the place where you can get the better deal!
This may take some time and effort on your end, but the savings are definitely worth it.
3. Do I know how I’ll pay for this?
Just because you can buy something, it doesn’t mean that you should. If you are in credit card debt, for example, it doesn’t make any sense to shop for the best deals on Black Friday using your credit card. You might “save” money upfront thanks to the deals, but you’ll lose more money in the long run because of the interest on your credit card payments.
In other words, getting a good deal on Black Friday is more than just about finding the best price. It’s about making sure that you also have a game plan on how you're going to pay for everything. It’s always best to pay in cash and to pay off your credit card balance every month. Otherwise, you’re going to save money at the time of purchase but will end up losing money over time.
4. Is this what I think it is?
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A lot of the time, good deals on Black Friday are due to cheaper brands and lesser quality items. For example, you might find an air fryer at an awesome price, but maybe this air fryer doesn’t have the same capacity as other air fryers. Maybe it has bad reviews because it only lasts a few months instead of a few years.
In other words, in addition to price matching the products, you should also thoroughly research them to make sure that it’s actually a bargain for you! In most cases, doorbusters and “too good to be true” deals are just inferior products in disguise.
Even if something is a brand name, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best deal. The easiest way to think about this is in terms of smartphones and laptops. Apple, for example, has great smartphones, but there are different models and even different “levels” within each generation of smartphones. Using this example, if you see a deal on a smartphone, it might be a low price because it’s the lowest rung on the product ladder. That’s not to say that you can’t get a great deal on the latest and greatest, but it’s up to us to be savvy shoppers!
5. Would I be interested in this product if it wasn’t on sale?
Again, this goes back to having a game plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
If you wouldn’t purchase a product when it’s not on sale, why would you purchase a product when it is on sale? You’re not actually saving money if you were never planning on purchasing the product anyways.
On the other hand, if the product would have interested you no matter what, then yes, you should definitely get it when it’s on sale!
Remember, these retailers have entire marketing departments whose job is solely to get you to spend money at their store. They know the tips and tricks of the trade. They’ll utilize psychological techniques such as scarcity and FOMO to try to get you to swipe that credit card, but this question can help you stop those impulse purchases!
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Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be incredible for deals!
This post isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take advantage of all these sales and bargains and discounts.
But it’s also up to us to be responsible, savvy shoppers.
In short, just because something appears to be a good deal, it doesn’t mean that it is. By asking yourself these five questions, you will be better prepared to determine if something is the right purchase for you!
To exchange more financial tips and ideas, I encourage you to join the TBM Family on Facebook!