Black Friday Bootcamp – get yourself fighting fit

The things you should do BEFORE the Black Friday sales begin.

Black Friday is nearly here. Almost. Even though it won’t take place this year until Friday 24 November, the emails are already beginning to filter through and some early sales have begun. This will really ramp up in the next week.

That’s going to bring in a huge temptation to spend money, but also the potential to save money on things you actually need.

If you follow my three steps below, you’ll not only be fighting fit to get the best deals, you’ll also be able to avoid spending money you really shouldn’t.

And when the sales do start we’ll be updating our epic Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales page so keep an eye out!

Get your money in shape

This first part is ensuring you are properly prepared financially for the sales.

Check what you’ve got

Obviously you don’t want to spend more than you’ve got. If you have savings you don’t need elsewhere then that’s your fund. But make sure you keep enough back to cater for emergencies.

Consider a cashback payment card

If you are confident you’ll only spend what you can afford, then it’s worth considering a cashback card. You’ll earn a little bit back each time you spend, including some new member bonuses on some cards.

If you don’t have one you still have time to get one. The Chase Bank current account gives you an instant digital debit card and you’ll the physical one in the post a few days later. This offers 1% cashback for at least the first 12 months.

A bigger rate could come from American Express welcome bonuses, and you should have time to apply and get your card in time. But to make these worthwhile you have to be able to repay the full amount of spending every month.

Find extra cash

If you think you’ll be short of the funds you need then you’ve still got time to cut back on spending elsewhere or even look to earn a little more. There might also be some cash sitting in forgotten online accounts you can use.

Do your prep

Once you know what you can afford, it’ll help you work out what you are going to buy. This second step is making sure you don’t overpay in the Black Friday sales. Plus how to avoid getting carried away and buying things you don’t need.

Work out what you need

Avoid getting dazzled by a discount – it might not be something you are going to use. That’s a waste of money, no matter how much you use it.

Write a list of what you need and what you’re looking for. This’ll help you avoid endless scrolling through pages and pages of offers.

Think about why you are shopping

A study by the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute found that 54% of those with a recent mental health problem had shopped online to make themselves feel better.

If you find yourself putting something in the basket you hadn’t planned on buying then pause. If you can leave it a few hours, perhaps even a day, you’ve time to think about whether you really want to buy it.

The best deals

Find our picks of the best offers in our dedicated deals library

Research what a good price actually is

Often the advertised discounts aren’t the real saving. Just because it says it “was £390, now £199”, it doesn’t mean it really is. This isn’t a random example.

A few years ago Argos had a Dyson vacuum cleaner as one of its headline offers with these exact prices advertised. £190 off sounds great, doesn’t it? In reality, you could have picked it up for £250 just before the sales. So yes, it’s still a good £50 off, but it’s not £190 off. So you need to be wary.

It’s easy to research the items on your list. A simple Google search will give you an idea, or if you want to take it a bit further you can look at the price history. This way you’ll know the real selling price in recent months.

Stop spending money now

If there are things you want to buy, then try to hold off until Black Friday itself. That’s when most retailers save their best discounts. Amazon is a great example, and its Echo, Fire TV and Kindle devices are likely to be heavily discounted – that’s how they get you on the site.

If you really need something now, or there’s a good deal, then, of course, go ahead and buy it. Plus this year with the threat of postal strike you might want to ensure you’ve got all your Christmas shopping ordered and delivered well ahead of time – and the earlier the better in that case.

Check returns policies

Make sure anything you get early can be returned. If you spot any bigger discounts during the Black Friday weekend you can always get it again at the lower price, and take back your original purchases for a refund.

Make your savings even bigger

Fast forward a few weeks and the sales are finally here. You’ve got your list of what you need to buy and know your budget so you can be more focused on your shopping.

This last part is full of the tricks to make sure you’re getting even more savings when you shop in the sales.

Use cashback sites

Quidco and Topcashback give you a little more when you shop. If you’ve not signed up I’ve deals that’ll get you a combined £37 bonus the first time you use each one.

Don’t forget your cashback card

And if it’s a credit card make sure you pay it off in full when the bill comes. 

Use a discounted gift card

A hack that’s been around for years but has recently got easier, is to buy a gift card at a discount and then use that gift card to pay. Here’s more about the pros and cons of paying this way.

Don’t get carried away

These sales might often have low prices but if you can’t afford it now, wait. You can still get a decent price at other times of the year, possibly even better if you time it right.

Try to price match

Sadly the John Lewis & Partners’ “Never Knowingly Undersold” price promise has ended, but there are other retailers who offer something similar. This can help you bring prices down more – sometimes even after buying.

And there are some shops, including John Lewis, where if you bought from them and the price subsequently drops, you can get the difference refunded.

Our podcast

Listen to Cash Chats, our award-winning podcast, presented by Editor-in-chief Andy Webb.

Episodes every Tuesday.

Avoid Buy Now Pay Later services

I’m really not a fan of services like Klarna. They encourage people to buy more than they can afford, which can cause financial problems down the line.

The only reason they might be handy is if you are getting more than one size of an item and know you absolutely will return the ones that don’t fit. In that case you might be able to avoid paying for those extra sizes at all – though some refunds are taking a while to come through from shops, so don’t bank on this.

Sign up to my newsletter

My weekly newsletter is worth signing up for anyway, but on the Thursday before Black Friday I’ll share the essentials you need, and hopefully some exclusive discounts.

Check out my ultimate list of Black Friday shops and deals

My Black Friday deals page doesn’t have anything yet, but it will be updated with early deals when they start to appear. And then as more information is released, a huge list of who is doing what, and some of the top deals. So book mark it now and come back later in the month.

Is Black Friday any good?

There’s no firm answer to this. It could be a complete rip-off. It could be a huge money saver. My tips above will help you work out which it is for you, and you can watch this video from 2020 too.

2 thoughts on “Black Friday Bootcamp – get yourself fighting fit

  1. Don’t need a thing so will continue my tradition of not buying a thing. But obviously if you have a looming purchase it probably makes sense to hold off for the deals that will drop. I see it like credit cards, they are an awful menace to those who can’t control their spending but the handiest thing ever and great for money back and travel points for people who can. Great balanced presentation!

    1. Thanks Steveark!


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