Black Friday, the day on which both high street and online retailers slash prices and send shoppers into a frenzy, is fast approaching.
If you're smart, you can take advantage of the sales to pick up high-ticket items at massively reduced prices and do a sizeable chunk of your Christmas shopping before December has even begun.
However, it's important to remember that Black Friday has overtaken Boxing Day as the UK's busiest shopping day of the year, so a significant proportion of the population will be thinking of doing exactly the same.
Although it doesn't take place until November 26th, if you want the best chance of getting your hands on the best deals this Black Friday, you need to start preparing now. Here are our 10 top tips on how to do so.
Black Friday can be manic, online and in the shops, so combine your personal wishlist with a list of what everyone wants for Christmas and remember to keep it with you. With so many discounts and offers vying for your attention, having a list handy will keep you focussed on what you actually want to buy.
With plenty of bargains to be had, shopping on Black Friday is a good idea… so long as you don't get carried away and end up in the red. Decide in advance how much you're prepared to spend in total and don't spend a penny more.
With so many retailers, brands and discounts all competing for your money, it's a good idea to research the items you're after.
If you're in the market for a new TV, for example, familiarising yourself with the best and worst brands will prevent you from buying something you later regret. As a rule of thumb, if you've never heard of a brand, approach its products with caution - it doesn't matter how much money you can get off an item that's no good to begin with.
If you've got your heart set on a specific item, it's also a good idea to make a list of retailers selling it so you know where else to look if it starts to sell out.
Websites can easily crash due to the volume of web traffic on Black Friday so set up online accounts with your favourite retailers as soon as possible. By entering your billing and delivery details in advance, you'll be able to complete any transactions and check out quickly and easily before the best sale items start disappearing.
Most retailers have newsletters you can subscribe to for free and doing so in advance of Black Friday can be a shrewd idea as they might well offer you early access to deals or additional discounts on certain items
As well as signing up for their newsletters, it's a good idea to follow your favourite retailers and brands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as these are often the first places their offers are advertised.
If you're hoping to buy some expensive tech, bear in mind that most brands will try and push their latest items. What consumers tend to forget is that, with new smartphones, TVs and laptops being released all the time, you can probably pick up last year's version of the new big thing for a fraction of the price. It may be a year older but that doesn't mean it can't still do a perfectly good job.
Black Friday 2021 may not officially take place until November 26th but that doesn't stop some retailers starting their sales a few days - or even weeks - early, so pay attention to shop windows, in-store signage and retailers' websites and social media accounts for good early deals.
If you see something on your wishlist available at a reasonable price in advance of Black Friday, it's often worth picking it up there and then - although the price could reduce further, it's also more likely to sell out, especially if it's a high-ticket item.
And, with uncertainty around supply chain issues in the run up to Christmas still hanging over us, picking up bargains as early as possible will save you from worrying about whether something you order online in December will actually turn up in time.
Whatever you're after, you want to get the best deal possible so be sure to compare prices on at least a couple of sites to ensure you're not spending more than you need to. There are numerous price comparison sites and apps to choose between but the obvious place to start is Google Shopping - just type in the item you're considering and check any relevant filters on the left hand side, then let Google show you where it's available at the lowest price.
If you're planning on hitting the shops in person, remember to charge your phone and make sure you have plenty of data available so you can compare in-store and online prices before you reach the checkout.
Some retailers will also price match against their rivals so remember to enquire about that before making a purchase too.
Retailers want your money so unleash your inner cynic and be sceptical of every offer. 50% off an item might sound good but if the item in question is on sale more often than not, 50% off its full price suddenly isn't quite so appealing.
Under no circumstance should you purchase something just because it claims to offer a significant saving; only buy it if it's at a price you think is too good to pass up.
So long as you show restraint in the face of so many offers and stick to a budget you're sure you can afford, Black Friday 2021 is a fantastic opportunity to save money on items you know you're going to buy sooner or later.
If you're unable to get what you want on Black Friday 2021, it's worth remembering that Cyber Monday takes place just three days later and is every bit as useful, especially if you're in the market for anything to do with computing.
If you could do with a hand paying for items in the run-up to Christmas, we offer small loans of £250 to our members and joining our credit union couldn't be simpler - find out more here.
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