What You Should, And Shouldn't, Buy On Black Friday

By David Bakke | November 21, 2011 AAA

For many, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year. While there are many great deals on Black Friday, there are also plenty of purchases that can wait until after the holidays. Consider the tips below when deciding what to buy on Black Friday this year. (For more on Black Friday, read Predictions For Black Week 2011.)

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

What You Should Buy on Black Friday
Spend your money wisely this holiday season. These items usually represent true Black Friday deals.

Electronics
Buy digital cameras, laptop computers, iPods, televisions and video game systems on Black Friday. These items are often significantly discounted. In order to survive the holiday shopping madness at the mall, research each potential item online before ever setting foot in a store. When you do your research ahead of time, you can walk confidently into stores and head directly to the items you want to buy.

You should know exactly which brand names and models of electronics you want to buy before you go shopping. Don't neglect the possibility that you might find a better deal online. When you shop on the internet, you can also avoid the long lines and the general mayhem at the malls on Black Friday.

Small Appliances
Surprise someone on your list by giving them a Christmas gift for the kitchen. Stores slash prices on cutlery sets, juicers, microwaves, mixers and other small appliances on Black Friday.

Tools
You can find great deals on tools on Black Friday. The adults on your list will appreciate new tools, especially if they enjoy DIY home-improvement projects. Are you not sure which tool to buy? Ask a friend or family member, or search online for the must-have tools this year. Tool companies often introduce limited quantities of specialty items for the holidays. If you don't shop on Black Friday, you might miss the opportunity to buy these unique gifts.

Gift Cards
Everyone has finicky people on their gift-giving lists. Instead of trying to find the perfect gifts for your discerning friends and family members, buy them gift cards instead. This way, they can buy what they really want. Choose gift cards without activation fees, expiration dates or transaction fees. On Black Friday, many stores offer discounted gift cards, such as $50 gift cards for $40. You can also buy discounted gift cards online through sites like Plastic Jungle.

Accessories and Upgrades
Some of the best Christmas gifts are upgrades or accessories for items people already own. A new flat-screen monitor for a desktop, for example, is a great addition. Other handy accessories include an external hard drive, a wireless keyboard or mouse, or a Bluetooth headset.

Items on Your List Only
Go shopping on Black Friday with a specific list of items that you want to purchase. Then do yourself a favor and stick to that list. Retailers often try to get you in their doors with teaser offers, in the hopes that you will buy other items, too. Do not fall prey to this tactic. Carefully plan what to buy, and then only purchase those items.

What You Shouldn't Buy
There are some things that you should not buy on Black Friday. You won't receive any additional discounts when you buy many of these items. (For more on the disadvantages of shopping on Black Friday, see 5 Pitfalls Of Shopping On Black Friday.)

Outdated Products
Don't buy outdated products on Black Friday because you may regret these purchases later on. A prime example of this was HD DVD. This technology stopped receiving support in 2008 after it lost the high definition format war to Blu-ray. Sellers were selling movies and players at rock bottom prices knowing that this technology would disappear. Discounts of over 70% would seem like a great deal, but the product's value would be worth nothing in less than two years. A 7.2 megapixel digital camera for $50 isn't a very good deal either. Stores have digital cameras with capabilities of 14 megapixels and greater with new features and at reasonable prices. The antiquated 7.2 megapixel camera probably won't be appreciated by anyone on your list.

Clothing
With all of the frenzy and stress of visiting stores on Black Friday, you don't have time to shop for clothes, especially if you don't know everyone's individual styles and sizes. By the time items are returned to stores, the good deals and sales will have ended.

Buying clothes for gifts on Black Friday usually is not a productive use of your time. Buy clothing for yourself if you must, but do it later on in the day, after you've completed your core Christmas shopping. Clothing shopping can involve a large investment of time. Finding the right size and trying on clothes can be very time consuming, and is difficult to do online. Retailers have a lot of clothing in their inventories, and they likely won't run out of everything before the day has ended.

Anything You Can't Afford
Create a budget for your Black Friday shopping. You don't want to suffer buyer's remorse in December when the bills arrive. Determine how much you can afford to spend on gifts, and create your shopping list with an eye on your budget. By shopping within your budget, you can look back and remember the time spent with family over the holiday rather than that nasty bill from Black Friday.

Anything People Won't Want or Use
Get tips for gift ideas from friends and relatives so you can buy gifts that they will truly use or really want. Stay away from joke or gimmick gifts. They usually go straight in the trash can. So, do your research on both the person receiving the gift and the gift itself.

Reactions to the Gifts
Finally, when purchasing children's gifts, think about how the parents might react to your presents. A drum set purchased for a child on your list may go over well with the child, but the parents may not appreciate a noisy household for the next several months.

The Bottom Line
Planning and executing a successful Black Friday shopping excursion does not have to involve too much effort. Carefully consider what items to buy on Black Friday the week before you begin your shopping excursion, when stores divulge the specifics of their holiday sales.

Consider small electronics for gifts, like a digital camera, a GPS or an iPod. These items will be appreciated and enjoyed. Creating a plan and a budget for Black Friday, and researching the items you plan to buy, are all keys to having a successful, efficient, low-stress shopping experience. With some forethought and consideration, your Black Friday shopping can be rewarding and fun. (To read more on how you can prepare, check out Preparing For Black Friday.)

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