If you’re one of the tens of millions who will be looking for bargains on tech products this coming Black Friday (here are some really good ones), I’m here to share some tips to make the big shopping day less stressful – and maybe a bit more affordable.
You’ve probably been told not to go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. The same is true when you’re ready to hit the mall. Make up a list of things you really want, read over it a few times, and stick to it. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Impulse purchases can lead to a blown budget and some serious buyer’s remorse when the credit card bills roll in.
Do your research at home, not in the store. Wandering down the crowded aisles of Best Buy trying to decipher the specs on PCs or HDTVs is a sure way to buy the wrong product. With all due respect to the folks who work in retail, they’ll be under so much pressure next week, they probably won’t be all that helpful.
Check the Web often. Deals come and go very quickly this time of year. Some stores will begin discounting merchandise a few days before Thanksgiving. In fact, some already are. Others might wait until the following Monday (a.k.a. Cyber Monday) to unleash their biggest discounts. If you have a specific product in mind, keep checking websites and newspaper ads.
If you do buy something, be disciplined about keeping receipts – and not just because you may have to return something. Some stores issue price matching guarantees, offering to pay the difference if the price drops after you buy or a competitor comes in lower. Without the receipt, you won’t have a chance. There are a lot of apps that allow you to snap a quick picture of a receipt and store it on your smartphone. Holding on to them that way avoids having to maintain a messy pile of paper. If a store wants a hard copy, you can simply print it out.
If you didn’t get the deal you wanted, wait a few days and hit the auction sites. eBay, of course, is the most well-known, but there are others, including Webstore.com, which has a massive number of digital goods on sale.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.