In personal finance circles, it’s popular to tell people to avoid the Black Friday crowds… that it just isn’t worth it. I try not to tell other people what to do, but for years I’d tell them that I’m staying away. I wouldn’t go to Wal-Mart or Best Buy, but if there was a small Staples or an Office Depot out of the way, I’d give those a shot. Usually, I did well on those second-tier deals.
If you want to deal with the crowds and it works for you, then so be it. I hope you aren’t part of the small handful of people who get some kind of injury.
It seems like I’m reading that more and more are just shopping online from home. I even read one story that the stores were empty. While I was out shopping at one place, a shopper there told me that the standout deal for an amazing laptop at Staples was still in stock – more than 5 hours after it opened. Maybe the pendulum is swinging towards online, leaving a better opportunity in the stores.
I wasn’t very excited about this year’s Black Friday. It seems like most of the deals were about gaming, televisions, smart speakers, or tablets. I don’t do any gaming anymore and I have more than enough of all the other items. In fact, we don’t need too much of anything, because we tend to keep things and use them for a long time. The cookware that I’ve had from 2005 still cooks, but it is starting to show its age.
While I’m not sure you’ll find the deals I choose particularly interesting, I noticed an interesting pattern when I reviewed them.
- Cuisinart TOA-60 Air Fryer Toaster Oven, Silver
Our old convection toaster oven was about 10 years old and it really showed it age. The problem is that it still works. Instead of the Amazon $200 price, the local Navy base had it for $100 (and no sales tax). It also would match the silver kitchen appliances we have in the house we bought 7 years ago. Finally the reviews of the air frying feature were really good. It’s certainly a splurge, but hopefully one we’ll be happy with.
I wonder if we can get anything from our old one at a yard sale. Would you buy an old, not-so-clean, convection toaster oven for maybe $5?
- Oversized Wall Clock
We’ve been looking for a traditional clock for our nautical-theme living room for awhile. It’s ideal for starting to teach our kids how to tell time. Normally, it would be $40, but I saw it for $15 on Slickdeals.
- JBL Headphones
I never seem to have anything better than the free headphones they give you on an airplane and one ear never works. I only use them a couple of times of year when I travel (and usually just read a book instead). At $8, this appears to a deal on their $40 headphones. I’m familiar with the JBL brand and it should be reasonable quality, but I don’t know if they are really $40 quality. For my use, it solves a (minor) problem at a reasonable price.
- Osmo Genius Kit for Fire Tablet
This is a cool augmented reality learning kit for kids. I had been interested in it for awhile, but it was only for the iPad for a long time. I couldn’t see spending $350 or so on a special tablet, just so I could spend another $99 on this. However, it works with our Amazon Fire HD 10. There was a brief window where the price was $35, if you applied a 50% coupon code on the product that was already 30% off ($70 on sale).
I think the deal was available for 10 minutes and I happened to refresh the browser on Slickdeals at the right time to get it. I hope they don’t cancel it due to a pricing mistake.
We certainly need this, but with two boys age 4 and 6, I think they’ll get a lot of use (and learning) out of this.
- Kids Headphones
We need something with a decibel limiting feature and a sharing port so they can watch the same movie on that Amazon Fire. These were $6 each with a couple code that I happened to catch at the right time on Slickdeals. (I was pretty lucky, but I’m sure I missed a lot of stuff because I wasn’t refreshing Slickdeals all the time.)
I was prepared to pay $15 each, but this saved us nearly $20.
- Think Geek’s Cyber Monday Promotion (Promocode: DOTCOM)
This is a late update to the list. I saw that Think Geek was running a 50% off everything on the site. I did a quick switch for anything Pokemon and found some great stuff for the kids. Almost everything was around $5-8, which is a bargain for almost anything related to the franchise. Pokemon’s take over of our lives is nearly complete.
My wife bought a few other things at the Navy base and some other places, but she didn’t tell me much about them. (Hopefully not to spoil Santa’s surprise.) We also picked up some less-than-exciting things like gift cards while we were already at the place or a can opener that we needed, but wasn’t on sale. The above were just the notable “deals.”
The pattern was that most of these things were just dumb luck. The toaster oven is the only item that I saw ahead of time and thought, “This would be a good home upgrade, we should give it a shot.” The rest were impulse items. They were impulse items with a good purpose, but still lifestyle inflation splurges that aren’t really necessary.
At home, I’m famous for not buying a lot of stuff throughout the year. This is the time of year where I catch-up.