It’s a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition: stuffing ourselves with turkey on Thursday and shopping until we drop on Friday.  Black Friday – which lands on Nov. 24 this year – is the busiest shopping day of the year and marks the official start of the holiday shopping season. 

Black Friday is known as a day of discounts, and while there are some deals to be had, it’s also easy to get lured into spending more than necessary. Here’s how to take advantage of this year’s sales without breaking the bank. 

  • Be strategic: The key to keeping your spending on track is create a plan. Make a list of the items you’re most interested in and start researching brands and prices. Then, create a budget for those items, knowing what your limits are. Stick to that list and (your budget) and don’t get swayed into buying other items just because they’re on sale.
  • Stay informed: Considering joining email lists for the stores or brands you plan to shop most frequently during the holidays. Most retailers offer a discount for joining the list and it’s also a good way to stay informed about special discounts, unique offers or extended hours. Following your favorite brands on social media is another good option to keep updated on sales and special events. 
  • Shop early. Like now. Retailers have been rolling out “Black Friday” sales since the beginning of the month. Several big-box stores offer deals of the day or top deals on their websites. Don’t wait until Friday to start browsing, especially if you’re looking for an in-demand item that is likely to sell out.
  • Use technology to find the best deals. Trying to keep track of all the potential deals can be a challenge. Luckily, there are some online tools and apps to make the job easier. Amazon price trackers like CamelCamelCamel and Keepa will alert you when a product’s price drops. ShopSavvy allows you to search thousands of online and brick-and-mortar for the best price.  If you’re a coupon clipper, there are options that automate the process, including PayPal’s Honey, which searches for coupon codes and applies them at check out. U.S. News & World Report compiled its own list of best discount shopping apps here.
  • Keep quality in mind. You’ll likely see screaming deals on off-brand TVs or appliances, but they may not perform as well in the long term.  Consumer Reports compared name-brand televisions with cheaper alternatives and found that the secondary brands fared worse over time. The agency also warned that bargain brands may not offer the same type of warranty as their more well-known counterparts and might be more difficult to get repaired. 
  • Get educated. Black Friday can be a great time to pick up a new pair of AirPods, toys, or a normally high-priced blender, but there are some items you should skip. Jewelry, for example, isn’t typically discounted during the holidays since retailers see plenty of demand without offering any sales. Gym equipment and bedding are other examples, as retailers tend to mark down those items in January. Here’s a handy guide to the best seasons for buying a variety of items. 

Black Friday can provide a good opportunity to grab some bargains. Planning ahead will allow you to make the most of the day.  

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