Black Friday: how to spot if a good deal’s a good deal

Our American pals across the pond are responsible for some great exports. I, for one, am all in favour of Oreos, Taylor Swift and Wes Anderson films.

However, it feels like our Halloween pumpkins haven’t even had a chance to turn to mush before Black Friday deals start flashing before our eyes, reminding us that Christmas is looming, and the number of paydays left this year is dwindling.

Where did it all begin?

No one knows for sure, but the two most widely accepted stories are:

  • That police in Philadelphia named the day after Thanksgiving ‘Black Friday’ in reference to the streets gridlocked with shoppers
  • It’s when shops come out of the ‘red’, start making a profit and move into the ‘black’

Nowadays, it’s a sensation the world over because of videos showing people pushing, shoving, sometimes getting into fisticuffs, all in the name of a good deal on a TV. Very…festive.

So, how can you secure one of these amazing deals without having to trample over someone’s dear old nan? Here are our five top tips to ensure a bountiful Black Friday.

1.     Have a plan

We’ve all done it; gone out shopping and come back with something we probably definitely didn’t need but thought, “It’ll come in handy eventually”.

Black Friday is not the time to do this.

Before braving retail hell, think about what items you’re looking for and why. Ask yourself, do you need them or do you want them? If you truly need something, you should be able to define a reason why it’s important.

For example, “I need a new iron because apparently, dropping it 62 times on my kitchen floor isn’t good for its health” is different to “I want this new iron that’s been forged in gold and has enough diamond embellishments to make Kim Kardashian jealous.”

Look, my nickname among my MoneyAware colleagues is ‘Treat Yo Self Jenn’, so believe me when I say, fellow splurger, I am not coming from a place of judgment with this. However, there’s a difference between ‘I need this’ and ‘I HAVE A MIGHTY NEED’.


2.    Do your research

Research is your sometimes sanctimonious but also best and most trustworthy friend.

When it comes to retail, customers have more power than ever before. Getting as much information as possible before you purchase means that you’re less likely to fall for marketing whizzbangery and more likely to get what you actually need.

When researching a product, look for key information, such as the make and model of the item. You’re probably not going to find the latest TVs or tech with huge discounts but, last year’s model might be included.

It won’t have the exact features, but it could still be worth investigating.

Make sure you find the RRP (recommended retail price). Without the original price, you can’t be sure what discount you’re getting.

Trust in people power and check customer reviews, especially if you’re buying a lesser known brand. If your new gadget falls to pieces after a month, then it’s not a good deal.

Remember that people tend to leave reviews when they’re either extremely delighted or woefully disappointed in the product. For detailed feedback, read reviews that are more ‘middle of the road’, as they tend to be more balanced between positives and negatives.

Also, be wary of bloggers, YouTubers or Amazon customers who post reviews. Make sure they mention that it’s an honest review of the product, as sometimes bloggers are given incentives, including a free version, to endorse a product that isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.

3.    ‘Opt-in’ for marketing

All this planning and research is a lot of effort. Make things a little easier on yourself:

  • Sign up to receive email marketing, or
  • Following retailers on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram

(You could check in with MoneyAware while you’re there.)

Lots of retailers will be promoting their deals throughout November so you’ll increase your chances of finding the best deal for you.

Once you’ve secured THE most amazing Black Friday deal, you can unsubscribe or unfollow so your inbox of feed won’t be clogged up and they can’t tempt me you to buy more. Check for a link in their emails which are usually in the footer.


4.    Stick to your budget

The best deal is going to be the one that’s affordable. There’s no point in skinting yourself to buy something just because it’s Black Friday. I’ll let you in on a secret about it: it’s just a normal Friday!

Chances are there’ll be promotions up to and right after Christmas as well, as retailers clear last year’s stock. You’ll get another chance at a deal and a couple more paydays to save towards the purchase.

If, like me, you need a little help sticking to your budget, why not employ the jam-jar budgeting technique. Allocate your money to a jam jar (one for each purchase or one for each person you’re buying for) and if possible, withdraw the cash to spend.


5.    If it looks too good to be true…

Although shopping online can help you avoid the temptation of browsing (and buying) the high street, the internet can be a scary place (it’s not all cute doggos). We’ve written before about how to avoid online scams so keep these top tips in mind while perusing.

Pay attention to the three ‘w’s’ – what you’re buying, where it’s coming from and who it’s coming from.

If you haven’t shopped with a certain online retailer before, try and find customer reviews on Google before you commit to purchasing anything.

Don’t risk getting ripped off or your online security just to scoop a Black Friday deal. Read up on how to get a chargeback reclaim, if you try to get a refund and the merchant doesn’t honour your request.

Happy shopping everyone and remember, wear extra layers for padding in case of a stampede!

What’s been your best black Friday deal? Do you have any tips for spotting the best deals? Or, is Black Friday a ploy to get you to spend more money? Let us know in the comments.


Posted by in Budgeting