Some avoid Black Friday as if it were the black plague, choosing to excuse themselves from the frantic, bargain-hunting crowds. The traditional kick-off to the Christmas shopping season that’s come the day after Thanksgiving since 1932 is certainly not for everybody.
But to those brave souls who happily dive into the thronging masses at the stores, there can be a big payoff. Special one-day-only price reductions can mean big bang for your bucks. It’s what keeps millions participating year after year. Here is some advice from your Better Business Bureau about how to get the most out of your Black Friday outings.
First: Know your budget
As mundane as the task may be, it is vital that you take stock of your spending budget and stick to it. The steps in the process are simple:
• Know your income. Add up your own salary along with your significant other’s, any dividends and any other sources of income.
• Know your monthly expenses, including rent or mortgage, utilities, credit card payments, car payments, insurance, other loan payments, gas and other car expenses, healthcare and groceries.
• Estimate your extra holiday expenses. These should include travel, decorations, entertainment and gifts. Make a detailed list of the gifts you plan to buy and the amounts you want to spend.
• Charitable contributions. Don’t overlook estimating how much you will be giving to those worthwhile causes that reach out to us over the holidays.
• Evaluate the over all picture. With the above knowledge you should be able to see what is left over for Black Friday spending. If it’s not as much as you had hoped for, carefully look over your budget for places to cut, giving you more money to spend on the big shopping day.
Do your prep work
• When you see ads for Black Friday deals, read them carefully. There are lots of restrictions in the fine print including quantity limits and time limits. Then look up reviews for those products online. Generally the more reviews the better. Remember that if there are only a few reviews and they are all glowing, they may have been paid for by the product manufacturer.
• Speaking of reviews, take the time to read BBB’s business reviews for the retailer or business you are considering patronizing. It’s useful to see what others’ experience has been and how the company responded to complaints.
• Inquire about return and warranty issues. Always get gift receipts and give those to whomever your gift goes.
Watch for good deals and watch out for crooks
Many shoppers have learned the value of signing up with their favorite retailers for email or text alerts. Some stores release their Black Friday deals early to their email list. Just double check to be sure that message you receive is legitimate and not from a “look-alike” scammer trying to get your personal information.
Consider visiting BBB’s AdTruth awareness campaign website at bbb.org/adtruth. This site highlights some of the tricks and gimmicks that unethical advertisers use to fool consumers. There you can learn about bad and false advertising, check on a business before making a purchase and settle a claim if your transaction goes wrong.
Your Black Friday shopping experience can be more rewarding and successful if you follow the above tips. For answers to any questions or concerns you may have about holiday shopping, contact the BBB at (800) 856-2417, or visit our website at bbbinc.org.