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Black Friday brings with it some terrific deals but also terrifying mistakes to avoid. I’m not saying there will be pits to jump over or fire to avoid; rather, these hazards are of the shopping-mistake variety.

With some tips and tricks and a little planning, you can avoid these easy-to-fall-for mistakes people make every year on Black Friday, saving you valuable time and money. Here’s what not to buy, places to avoid, and alternatives to both.

What not to buy on Black Friday

You might be tempted to do ALL of your shopping on Black Friday and it might seem like a great idea. Don’t get tricked, however – not everything that’s discounted on Black Friday really reflects any useful price decrease. In addition, many things will drop in price between Black Friday and Christmas, so do some savvy sleuthing before your shopping.

Free weights and exercise equipment

Anything related to fitness will get a steep discount after Christmas as the New Year frenzy hits its peak. The prices you see on Black Friday are not the lowest they’re going to be, so don’t fall for it.

Jewelry

The holidays are actually one of the worst times to buy jewelry, watches and the like. There will be sales for sure, but retailers also dramatically increase their prices going into the holiday season. That deep discount you’re seeing is probably still higher than the cost of the same ring or necklace in the summer months.

How To Avoid Black Friday Mistakes

Winter clothes

Again, you’ll find some great deals on winter clothes, coats and accessories on Black Friday, but if you wait until after Christmas, you’ll reap even bigger discounts. This is because after the holidays, stores want to start liquidating their winter stock for spring and summer fashions. You can find the same coat that’s discounted on Black Friday for half that price on January 3rd, so just wait a few more weeks.

Computers

This goes for phones and tablets as well. What’s for sale on Black Friday will typically be last year’s model. This doesn’t mean it’s not good, but the cutting edge tech will come out closer to Christmas. If you want some great deals on computers, Cyber Monday is almost universally better for tech in general and you don’t need to wear pants for Cyber Monday.

Holiday decorations

These will be massively discounted in the few weeks before Christmas and insanely discounted after New Year’s. Wait to stock up until after the season. Hit up Target or Walgreens especially, as they both aggressively reduce prices, up to 90% in the days following Christmas.

Where not to go on Black Friday

Unfortunately the places that have the best deals and yell the loudest are the places to avoid. Walmart, Target and other catch-all retailers will have the widest array of sales but that means thousands more people vying for those deals. Ever seen Black Friday fight videos? Yeah, there’s a reason most of those are at Walmart.

Instead, find places that cater to the specific types of items you want to buy. Electronics? Check out Best Buy or a local place running deals. Books? Clothes? Literally any other specific type of item? Shop local deals first, and then check out specialty stores. Though of course there will still be crowds, it will not be as catastrophic as shopping at an all-in-one retailer.

Other Black Friday dangers

There’s more out there than the crush of a thousand angry shoppers. Many stores run deals that are, well, fake to a certain degree. Here are some to avoid.

Be wary of toy shopping on Black Friday

If the children in your life ask for a specific toy and it’s on sale on Friday, then maybe pick it up. That said, pretty much every toy that’s deeply discounted on Black Friday will be old news, to be replaced with the shiny new stuff in a few weeks. The best toy deals and coolest new toys come out in December, so keep that in mind.

Avoid “Black Friday brands”

Many stores will draw you in with huge discounts on “televisions” or other electronics but when you get there you find out it’s a “Pandasonic” or something. These are probably fine pieces of equipment but they’re not top of the line and the “discounts” you’re seeing are probably just slightly less than their normal price. These are brands that likely don’t exist in stores outside of Black Friday weekend, so don’t fall for this trick.

Wait one day

Tons of people are buying insane amounts of goods on Black Friday and with shorter return windows on Black Friday products, the following Saturday and Sunday are great times to pick up open box items. This includes refurbished items and “damaged box” items that are just as good but their exterior is dinged up. You’ll find these items are even cheaper than their Black Friday prices and you can leisurely stroll in and pick them up without any literal fights.

Though this is a scavenger approach and won’t likely get you specifically what’s on your list, keep an eye out for this stuff as you do your Christmas shopping.

Be safe and shop smart on Black Friday

There are some great deals to be had for sure on Black Friday. If you plan well, avoid common pitfalls and stay away from the high-traffic stores, you’ll have more fun and lose less sanity.

Do you have any strategies for Black Friday shopping you stick to each year?

I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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