6 ways to shop smarter this Black Friday
22 November 23
Reading time: 7 minutes
Have the ads started to flood your inbox yet? Black Friday (November 24) is just around the corner, and with it comes a flurry of advertising convincing us that we’d be fools to miss out on the deals on offer.
Originally an American phenomenon, Black Friday gained traction in New Zealand in recent years as retailers have jumped at the opportunity to drive crowds of shoppers into malls and increase their sales. It’s often considered the beginning of the holiday shopping season and the best time to get a bargain.
Black Friday can be a great opportunity to buy things we already need for a lower price, but sometimes it's tempting to use it as an excuse to spend money we don’t have or would be better off saving.
Here's how you can get the best value for your money this Black Friday.
Make a list and check it twice
Preparation is key to a successful shopping trip. It’s easy to get swept up in the madness of big sales. We all know the feeling of driving home with your new purchase as the adrenalin wears off and thinking “Did I actually need this?”
It’s so much easier to think rationally in a calm environment, so taking the time to write a list before you go can make your shopping feel much more focused and rewarding.
Amy, 42, finds she’s able to save money by doing her Christmas shopping early during Black Friday, but makes sure to write a list so she doesn’t get distracted from what she’s there for.
“Having lists written and taking advantage of the deals is a great way to save money. Plus it makes me feel super organised, and I know future me will be so grateful when there's no major mad dashes to the mall required in late December."
If it’s a Christmas list you’re working on and you’re not sure where to start, here are some ways you can hack Christmas to get more bang for your buck.
Ask yourself: would you still want it if it wasn’t on sale?
Ever heard of ‘spaving’? Spaving happens when we spend not because we need or even want something, but because we think we’re saving money.
Consider for example a ‘buy one and get one half price’ sale. You need a new pair of jeans, and they have one pair for $50 or two for $75. If you buy the two, sure you will have saved $25, but you will have really spent $25 more than you needed or wanted to.
In this case, we are calculating the supposed savings in our heads instead of noticing how much we are actually out of pocket in the process. Try to stay focused on buying things that will benefit both you and your bank account.
Do your research first
When you’re shopping, it’s a good idea to take a moment to Google the product you’re considering. You’ll be able to compare the price with other shops.
There are also some great comparison sites like pricespy.co.nz which bring together the prices from all retailers so you can easily compare. You can also look at the price history of a product, which shows how the pricing has tracked over time and whether you really are getting a special deal.
Most Black Friday sales are also online, so why not jump onto your laptop instead of going to the mall? It’s easier to compare deals and you’ll avoid any long lines or crowds. A win-win!
Think carefully before using buy now pay later
It can be tempting to use a buy now pay later loan if you don’t have the funds in your account to buy what you want.
But remember, when you use products like Afterpay or Laybuy, you’re essentially spending tomorrow’s money today. So you need to make sure you have a plan to pay it back on time.
If you miss payments, you’ll be charged fees and possibly undo any savings you made on the purchase. It might even end up costing you more than what you would have paid outside of the sales!
It can also be hard to juggle multiple buy now pay later loans at once, so if you decide to use them, try keep it to a minimum of one or two. Here’s more on shopping smarter using buy now pay later.
Understand the Ts and Cs
Many retailers have a ‘no returns’ policy on sale items, which means your decision to buy is final and you can’t change your mind later. Will you be able to get your money back? Or will it just be a store credit?
If you’re unsure about a purchase’s size, the way it looks or whether you really want it, it's best to ask the shop assistant or check the sale terms to check whether they’ll be accepting returns.
Sam, 27, learnt this lesson the hard way after finding out the new clothes she’d bought online were the wrong size, but the shop wouldn’t offer an exchange.
"I've been burnt by Black Friday in the past! I bought some clothes online that I wanted to exchange because they didn't fit, but I was told by the brand that because they were on sale they were non-exchangeable (even just for a different size - that was still available)! I've learnt to read the fine print now before making any purchases around this particular time."
This is also important if you’re buying a gift and don’t necessarily know if it’s the right fit or whether they’ll already have something similar. Ask for an exchange card in this case – not all shops will offer these (particularly for sale items), but some will to help build a good customer relationship.
Use secure payment methods
Shopping online has so many benefits – it can be way more convenient and make it easier for us to find the best deal.
But no one wants to experience the disappointment of a purchase never showing up, or even worse, your card details ending up in the wrong hands.
There are some simple steps to make your online shopping safer. Make sure you use a trusted wifi connection, only buy from websites starting with https:// and do some research on a company if you’ve never bought from them before.
Netsafe has some more helpful information for shopping online safely.
Overall, the key to a successful shopping session is taking a moment to think before we buy.
Whether it’s taking a night to sleep on it or five minutes to run through the steps we’ve covered here, it will make you feel more confident you’ve made a good choice and really taken advantage of Black Friday sales.