What to Buy (and Not to Buy) on Black Friday

Black Friday shopping is not for the faint of heart! Even though the insanity is spread out over about ten days from this weekend to Cyber Monday, it’s still easy to get caught up in the frenzy and make less than prudent decisions about what to buy. Since both your time and your money are limited, it pays to plan and decide ahead of time what you’re looking for and how much money you want to spend.

Every Black Friday there are the  hottest, most desirable, most sought after products but that doesn’t not mean that that’s where you will find the best deals. Here are some tips of which products to buy and not to buy this Black Friday.

Electronics – Maybe

For the last few years, electronics have been the best sellers for Black Friday, probably because grownups love toys, too! Unfortunately, the attention concentrated on TVs, smartphones and other devices means that there are some bogus deals that you should pass up in favor of less glamorous but more practical items that are better values.

TVs – Be Careful

Every major chain has tons of deals on TVs, especially big, big super smart TVs but buyer beware! Not every sale item is really a good deal. Some of those sets that sound great on paper aren’t all they seem. Retailers have this nasty habit of bringing in what they call “special purchases” for big sales but these purchases may not be that special. These can be inferior products that aren’t worth the price you pay for them. To make sure the TV, laptop or other device that you buy is of high quality, do your research. Get the model number and check it out. Make sure the item you’re buying is regular stock and backed by the manufacturer.

There are pros and cons to buying a new TV on Black Friday. The pros include having a shiny new TV with all the bells and whistles in time for holiday movies, college bowl games and the Super Bowl. Also, it makes a great gift for the whole family. The biggest con is that the TV you buy in November will very soon become “last year’s model.” In January, most of the world’s biggest makers of TVs and other tech products will gather at the Consumer Electronics Show to unveil their latest wares. Soon after, those new 2018 models will hit stores and the 2017 versions will be on sale at clearance prices. If you really, really want a new TV, go for it but be aware that you may be able to get the same set for less after the first of the year.

Laptops – Probably Not

A laptop should not be an impulse purchase! You should do research to find the ideal laptop for your needs, especially if you’ll be using it for work. Any computer must be considered a major investment, so you’ll be spending some serious money. July and September are better times to get the lowest price on a high-end laptop. OTOH, if you’re looking for a supercheap laptop for casual use like Facebook and email, that under-$200 Chromebook from Walmart should work just fine.

Smartphones – Maybe

Unless you find a better deal than T-Mobile’s BOGO deal on the currently hottest smartphones, you may be better off waiting. Again, CES is coming in January, meaning that most tech giants that aren’t Apple will be introducing new models, making the ones out now no longer the latest thing. Look for good buys on 2017 smartphones from Samsung and LG in the first quarter of 2018.

Gaming – Maybe

If there’s someone on your list that craves a new gaming console from PS4, Xbox or Nintendo this year, you’re going to find that most retailers are selling them for about the same price. However a few are tossing in gift cards or other bonus goodies, so you might as well go for the extras. Look for decent deals on accessories like controllers and VR headsets. Amazon and GameStop can be counted on for sales on games.

Tablets – Spend a Little More

There are cheap Android tablets all over the place for Black Friday, even in drugstores, but this is one bargain that you should probably pass up. Shoppers who bought ultra cheap no-name tabs have found that they just didn’t deliver much bang for the buck so you are probably better off spending a little more to get a name brand tablet that will be backed up by the manufacturer. With Amazon’s Fire tabs starting at $29.99 for Black Friday, the only excuse for buying a no-name Android tablet is that it’s for your kid who will break it anyway.

Small Kitchen Appliances – Good Bets

If there’s anything you need or just want for the kitchen, Black Friday is the time to go for it. Retailers are offering name brand blenders, toasters and coffeemakers at super low prices with mail-in rebates. Plus, some of the priciest appliances like Keurig coffeemakers and KitchenAid stand mixers are on sale, some at the lowest prices of the year. Black Friday is a great time to upgrade your kitchen without blowing the bank.

Sheets and Towels

Surprisingly, these items for the home are seeing some significant discounts for Black Friday so if you want to fix up your home for holiday guests, you can find some good deals. Or you can wait until January for “White Sales.”

Holiday Decorations – Maybe

If you’re planning to buy the tree and start decorating the house on the day after Thanksgiving, then you should be looking for low prices on holiday decor. If you’ll be doing it all in a couple of weeks, you can find everything you need at lower prices as Christmas draws closer. For rock bottom prices on all things holiday, shop on December 26 and store it all until next year. Hopefully, you have adequate storage space and won’t forget where you put the stuff before Thanksgiving 2018.

Apparel – Shop Carefully

In most cases, buying clothing and accessories over Black Friday week is a pretty good deal. You get decent prices on fall and winter apparel items while you still have plenty of time to wear them. On the other hand, you will likely find lower prices later, like after Christmas, as retailers clear out the season’s leftover stock to make room for new styles. That can mean rock bottom prices on even designer merchandise but you may not find what you want in what’s left.

If the kids need new winter coats, it’s a good idea to pick them up at Black Friday sales. Your selection will depend on which sizes and styles remain so if your wear a common size, you’re more likely to score. The post-holiday clearance sales are definitely worth a look because that’s where you may get lucky and find the most expensive clothes and accessories at affordable prices!

Fitness Equipment – Nope

You’re much more likely to find good deals on fitness equipment after the first of the year, when people will have made New Year’s resolutions to get into shape and retailers will be taking advantage.

Jewelry – Nope

Except for small items that make good gifts and costume pieces to accent your new fall clothes, jewelry sales are pretty much a waste of your time on Black Friday. You’ll find lower prices after the first of the year.

Mattresses – Nope

The big sales will be coming in January.

Obviously if your TV just conked out or your laptop is totally outdated, Black Friday is a good time to get a replacement. Just don’t get caught up in the excitement and max out your credit cards or make purchases that you will regret later.