Waiting for Black Friday to get a jump on your Christmas shopping? This guide can help you prepare and avoid the chaos by shopping like a pro.
In 2020, Black Friday falls on 27th of November, followed by Cyber Monday on 30th of November.
Here are eight tips to make sure you get the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday:
Making a list of the things you want to buy is a good place to start your Black Friday splurge. Keep in mind that it is all too easy to get tempted by bargains on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You can avoid buying things you do not need by making sure you list what you want to buy before the sales start. If you're planning to do your Christmas shopping, your list should answer both who you'll buy for and what you plan to spend per person. Also think about:
Who you are buying for
How much you are willing to spend on each item
What gifts you need to buy
Is there anything you need for yourself?
Which items are must buys and which can wait until later
The hardest part of shopping on Black Friday is to reign in your spending. With hundreds of deals on offer it's easy to get carried away and spend more than you intended to. Once you have your wish list, you can budget for how much you want to spend on each item.
While making a budget is great, it's only useful if you stick to it. Black Friday isn't a day for browsing the shops and buying what strikes your fancy. It's a strategic mission that needs to be carried out with military precision. If you come across something irresistible that's not on your list, only buy it if you're willing to cut something else off your list.
Remember that if you are shopping online, delivery charges can quickly add up and eat into your budget.
Some websites slash the cost of sale items only to add hefty delivery charges to your order, so check the total cost of getting each item delivered to your door.
It may cost less overall to buy a slightly more expensive item that comes with free delivery.
Use the sidebar to navigate down to our Gift Budgeting tool that will help you to plan your spending on gifts throughout the year.
If you're planning to charge your shopping on a credit card consider getting a credit card that's best for how you intend to pay for your shopping.
For example, if you want to spend now and pay it off later over time you might consider getting a 0% purchase card. These cards offer long introductory interest free periods and low APRs. This way you can spread the cost of your shopping without paying interest on top as long as you pay off the balance before the interest-free period ends. Alternatively, a cashback credit card can also help you boost your holiday shopping savings. Combining deals from retailers by using rewards points or cash back offers can help you get more bang for your buck.
Getting a new credit card may not be for everyone. If you already have a lot of credit card debt and you feel tempted to overspend, it's better to pass on taking on more debt.
Read our guide on how to choose the best credit card for your needs.
When planning for Black Friday, research is the name of the game. If you know what you want to buy, research different brands and different retailers to find who offers the best deal. If you're buying electronics, it helps to compare brands as they can offer similar specs for different prices. You can also use tools like CamelCamelCamel, which lets you track the price of specific items sold on Amazon.
That said, it's also a mistake to make your buying decisions just on price. It's more about getting value for your money. Often Black Friday isn't always the best day for a bargain.
Just because the item you are after has 50% off the RRP, that doesn't mean you should be tempted to rush to buy it without shopping around.
There are lots of offers up for grabs over Black Friday and beyond, so double check you are really getting the best price before you order.
If you're planning to book your next holiday on Black Friday, make sure you don't forget to get travel insurance when you book your getaway. Plans don't always go smoothly, and given the recent collapse of Thomas Cook that left thousands of travellers stranded around the world, it makes sense to be prepared.
If you plan to do most of your shopping online, it's useful to sign up for accounts with the retailers you plan to shop with. Make sure your billing and delivery information is correct. This can save you time on the day, as items can sell out fast on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so every minute counts. Retailers also send out dedicated Black Friday mailing lists with their best deals well before Black Friday. Signing up early will make sure you're among the first to know.
If you're going to spend money, why not get the most out of it? Airline online shopping portals award members with miles for making purchases with dozens - if not hundreds - of retailers.
At the most basic level, you can be earning bonus points and miles for making purchases that you'd be making regardless. You're still purchasing the exact same things directly from the same retailer.
The only UK-based airlines that have shopping portals on which can earn you miles are British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
In order to start earning on your online purchases, all you need to do - if you already haven't - is sign up to the British Airways Executive Club and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club programmes. Then, the next time you're thinking of doing some online shopping, make sure you check each of the shopping portals first to see if your retailer of choice is featured as one of the airline's shopping partners.
Before you know it, you could fund your next holiday simply by buying yourself a new wardrobe.
On Black Friday, the early bird catches the worm. Most large retailers start publishing their Black Friday deals from midnight on Thursday, although some deals start appearing earlier in the week. But it's not uncommon for websites to crash as a result of the huge influx of traffic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So it might be a good idea to wake up early during the quieter buying period to do your shopping.
Shop in-store and you have no automatic right to a refund if you change your mind, instead it is down to the store's discretion and returns policy.
If you shop online you get 14 days to cancel your order and get a full refund from the retailer, including the cost of delivery.
With faulty items, you can get a full cash refund from the retailer if you return it within 30 days, and it does not matter whether you bought it online or in store.
Speak to the retailer not the manufacturer because it is their responsibility to give you a refund.
If you are buying something worth over £100 then you can get extra protection when you pay with your credit card thanks to Section 75 cover.
Buying something worth less than £100? Then pay with your debit or credit card to get Chargeback cover instead.
If you're splashing out on expensive tech, it could be worth investing in gadget insurance. This can protect you if your new phone or tablet is damaged or stolen.
Find out more about gadget insurance here.
Black Friday's origins trace back to the US. Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday in November. So the following Friday is an unofficial holiday. This is when many people are off work and tend to do most of their Christmas shopping.
Retailers began opening earlier on Friday, offering huge discounts. Soon, it became an annual shopping holiday, with many retailers kicking off their sales on Black Friday and ending on Cyber Monday.
The term Black Friday is thought to be a reference to retailers going "into the black" as a result of the volume of sales on the day. This is based on the historical accounting practice of using black ink, as opposed to red ink, to denote positive income.
Think of Cyber Monday as Black Friday's twin brother. The only difference is that the deals offered are online. The term was coined back in 2005 by two Americans from the US National Retail Federation. It was an attempt to promote online shopping when it was still in its infancy. It was also intended to help smaller retailers compete with the big name retailers such as Amazon.
Use our handy gift budgeting tool to help plan your spending o family and friends throughout the year.
Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.