What to Buy & What to Avoid Buying During the Holiday Season
After the turkey’s been devoured, the wine consumed, and everyone is pleasantly stuffed (okay, overstuffed), millions of us head to the couch or the car to kick-start our holiday shopping. (You guessed it—this post is all about the Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts!)
Black Friday and Cyber Monday used to be two distinctly separate shopping holidays, but as online shopping becomes more and more prevalent, the two dates are merging into a weekend-long sale extravaganza.
In an attempt to stand out from all the noise on the actual day, some retailers will often start their Black Friday deals earlier in the week—and even extend their deals into December.
And by taking advantage of the steep discounts following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can maximize your budget and get the gifts you’ve been eyeing.
While it can seem like almost everything is on sale from Thanksgiving all the way through the day after Christmas, there are certain buys that may be better deals than others.
The keys to securing the best deals are knowing what you’re looking for, where to look, and what the item is really worth. That way you have a barometer for how good the deal you are getting actually is.
Here are a few tips to help you figure out what to buy and what not to buy this holiday season in order to secure the best deals.
What to Buy on Black Friday
If you’re looking for a great deal, Black Friday is a great time to find steep discounts. While not everything will be on sale, these are some of the categories where you can find the best deals.
TVs, Computers, and Other Electronics
If you’re looking for a new TV, computer, iPad, or other electronic item, Black Friday is the time to strike. If you plan on buying any discounted electronics, act quickly—with deals up to 40% off , popular items like televisions and computers sell rapidly.
Other popular items to grab on Black Friday include smartphones and tablets. Last year, some retailers offered gift cards of up to $250 on qualifying purchases of phones on an installment plan.
Appliances are one of the best things to buy on Black Friday—that goes for both large and small appliances. You can find prices up to 40% to 50% below retail value on items like coffee makers, rice makers, and stand mixers.
Video Games, DVDs, CDs
On Black Friday, you’ll likely find video games, DVDs, and CDs at deeply discounted rates. They make a great stocking stuffer, and these sales may continue into December.
What to Buy on Cyber Monday or Online in December
Smart Home Devices
Smart home gadgets tend to be in demand, and it’s expected that they’ll continue to be popular. Last year, retailers dropped the prices on items like Google Home and
Amazon’s Alexa, Black Friday through Cyber Monday.
Other high-tech home items like baby monitors, smart lights, and security cameras are also generally reliable buys online throughout December.
Travel and Experiences
If you have a flexible schedule, you could score big on travel deals during Cyber Monday. Airlines, hotels, resorts, and tours may drop prices during Cyber Monday, but usually only for trips taken to certain locations during a specified time period .
If your schedule allows and one of the locations included is on your travel bucket list, you could luck into a seriously discounted vacation.
Social discount sites like Groupon or LivingSocial typically have discounted experiences for sale during Cyber Monday as well. You can find discounted rates for things like massages, manicures, facials, fitness classes, and other experiences.
TVs, Laptops, Gaming Systems, and Other Electronics
While a lot of TVs, laptops, and other electronics will sell at deep discounts on Black Friday, any remaining inventory will likely also still be reduced through Cyber Monday.
If you’re not interested in fighting the crowds in stores on the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving, you could still see some serious savings when you purchase electronics the week or two after Thanksgiving.
What Not to Buy Right After Thanksgiving
While you can find some great deals for all sorts of items during the holiday shopping season, there are a few things that you may find better deals for at different times of the year.
Toys and Games
It might seem unorthodox to avoid buying toys on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but historically the best deals on toys like action figures, dolls, and games are closer to Christmas. The best deals on toys typically come about two weeks before the big holiday when you can find discounts around 20% to 25% off .
But if you’re on the hunt for the season’s most popular toys, you may want to act quickly. Oftentimes, the most desired toys sell out without going on sale.
Linens and Bedding
The best prices on bedding and linen are usually in January during what are known as “white sales .” So, if you can hold off into the new year to refresh your sheets and other linens, you could find better deals then.
Outdoor Furniture and Other Outdoor Essentials
Patio furniture, outdoor grills, pool equipment, and other outdoor essentials most likely won’t be on sale this December. Outdoor gear is generally sold on extreme discount at the end of summer .
If you can’t wait until next Labor Day to purchase your new grill or patio furniture, another option is Spring Black Friday—a spring sale that a lot of home and garden stores run annually.
One thing to avoid purchasing during the early December shopping mayhem? Holiday decorations. Christmas trees, twinkling lights, lawn decorations, and ornaments will all be deeply discounted the closer the holiday gets.
However, prices are likely to be reduced even further after the holiday when stores are trying to make room for new inventory. So if you can wait, stock up on decorations for the next holiday season after Christmas. Then, you can get a few bins and stash it all away in your garage or storage area.
Be a Savvy Shopper This Holiday Season
So is all the Black Friday/Cyber Monday hype really worth it? How do you know a deal really is a good deal? A great way to determine if the sale price is worthwhile is to review the historic prices of the item.
Some sales are all about inflating the price of the item to increase the perceived market value. Then when the big sale day comes around, retailers simply discount the item back to its actual market value .
So just because something is on “sale,” doesn’t actually mean it is. Most often a quick internet search will provide enough insight for you to determine whether you are getting a good deal or not.
Another way to be a savvy shopper this holiday season? Shop with a SoFi Money® cash management account. With SoFi Money, you can spend, save, and earn all in one product. You can sign up for SoFi Money in less than 2 minutes.
This means you can save for your holiday shopping and have easy access to the funds as you need when you find great shopping deals.
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