How to Get the Most Out of Black Friday (Even if You’re Not Into Tech)
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your TV or your cutting board, there’s a strong chance you’ll get the opportunity to do so this Black Friday. At Wirecutter, we watch for discounts on great gear every day, so we can help you decide whether those deals are worth taking advantage of.
We’ll be posting only the very best deals on our Black Friday page. (Last year we analyzed over 70,000 Black Friday deals and posted only a few hundred.) Until then, we have some guidance on finding the best deals on whatever you desire—and leaving yourself enough time to actually enjoy the holidays.
Never mind the doorbusters—you’re better off at home
The divide between the in-store sales of Black Friday and the online deals of Cyber Monday has eroded. A Cyber Week of online sales now stretches from roughly the day before Thanksgiving to November 26.
The good news is that most of the best deals available at brick-and-mortar stores are also available online, from either the retailer that set the price or the competitors that are matching it. Our advice: Skip the rush for outrageous “doorbuster deals,” which are available in very limited numbers, and shop from the comfort of your couch.
Know what you want before you shop
Going to the grocery store without a list makes for a disorganized shopping trip. The same goes for Black Friday deal hunting. Knowing what you’d like to save on will make the whole affair a lot less overwhelming and keep you from succumbing to impulse purchases you might regret.
Make a list of the items you’d most like to pick up at a discount, and be specific. If it’s a 4K TV you’re after, choose the exact model you want to save on, or at the very least, the size you need and the features you want. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can search for the item and watch its price, rather than hoping it shows up on a retailer’s discount page.
Watch for storewide sales
Your list will especially come in handy if you find a retailer offering a storewide discount. The laptop or blender you’re hoping Amazon will discount might be available from another online store or from the manufacturer directly. If a retailer issues a storewide coupon, start adding those items to your cart and make sure they aren’t exceptions.
The same goes for items generally sold direct from the manufacturer. Amazon’s inventory of J.Crew sweaters and Saucony running shoes, for example, is surprisingly robust.
Restock household consumables
Big-ticket items such as standing mixers, Instant Pot models, televisions, and noise-cancelling headphones attract the most attention, but Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also a chance to stock up on the things you go through regularly.
How many spare lightbulbs are in your hall closet? Do you have enough coffee filters, Brita refills, and HEPA filter replacements to last you until Cyber Week next year? If the price is right, stock up.
Replace your worn-out basics
Are your bath towels old and scratchy? Are your washcloths ready to become rags? If you really want to get thrifty, forget the luxury purchases and replace those threadbare bedsheets and lumpy bed pillows. Don’t forget about the guest room—your holiday visitors will thank you.
Black Friday is also a chance to replace worn-out items you use a few times a year. If you found a hole in your tent on your last camping trip, for instance, or if your luggage is on its last legs, now could be a great time to secure a replacement.
Look to save money in the long run
Spending wisely isn’t just about getting the lowest sale price possible—it’s also about spending money on the things that are important to you and make your life better, not where it’s unlikely to do you much good. Sometimes, spending wisely can even reduce your expenses overall. A $4 trip to the coffee shop every other day, for example, may not seem like much, but consider the total monthly cost. A high-quality burr grinder and a simple pour-over coffee maker can put you on a par with your local barista while significantly cutting down on your spending.
Shop economically and ecologically
Not ready to give up the coffee-shop visits? We understand—the little things that help us enjoy our day are important. But some coffee places, Starbucks included, offer a small discount to customers who bring their own container. A good thermos or travel mug will let you enjoy your brew on the go.
Looking to cut down on paper and other packaging waste? Hunt for deals on items such as reusable water bottles, a Sodastream machine that lets you carbonate your own water, or tight-sealing containers for leftovers and dry goods.
Assemble that emergency kit you’re supposed to have
It can be painful to put hard-earned cash into items you hope never to need, but if you don’t have a roadside emergency kit in your trunk, you’re taking a risk. An easy-to-use tire-changing jack and jumper cables with a battery starter can have you back on the road rather than waiting for AAA.
The same goes for anyone living in earthquake country without an earthquake kit. You may not be able to save on a premade one, but Black Friday could net you savings on the most expensive elements.
On Amazon, choose No-Rush Shipping and earn store credit
Guaranteed two-day shipping is one of the best perks of Prime, but if you don’t need that discounted hair dryer in the next 48 hours, Amazon will reward your patience with store credit. On the checkout screen, under the delivery options, you’ll see No-Rush Shipping and its accompanying reward.
These rewards can vary, depending on what you’re buying and when. We’ve seen $5 credits for Amazon’s same-day delivery service Prime Now, credits for Whole Foods grocery orders, $1 off digital goods such as movie rentals, and discounts on Kindle and Audible purchases. Note that these discounts have expiration dates, and you can apply only one per order—four $5 credits won’t net you $20 off a single Prime Now order, for instance.
Know when to log off
Have you ever gone to the store and thought, “I’m here, I should buy something”? On Black Friday, beware of this attitude. It’s never a waste not to buy something. The best way to save is often to avoid opening your wallet at all.
Avoid the sunk-cost fallacy. You may have spent some time browsing, but don’t throw good money after bad by buying something that doesn’t really suit your needs. Yes, you can always return a purchase you regret—but if you think those doorbuster lines are bad, the post-holiday crowds at customer service counters and shipping centers won’t be much better.