Black Friday shopping for new gadgets? Here are some preparation tips

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: November 24, 2013

Since Thanksgiving is less than a week away at this point, there seems to be no better time to bring up the fact that the day after Thanksgiving is what pretty much unofficially marks the holiday sales season. While many retailers have begun their sales a few weeks early, the bulk of them seem to have the biggest doorbusters and sales starting the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as "Black Friday". Then again, just because it's called "Black Friday" doesn't mean stores actually wait until Friday for sales to begin - every year it seems that sales start earlier and earlier. There are even some stores opening on Thanksgiving this year at 6 PM, which in my opinion is downright ridiculous, but that's an opinion to discuss at another point in time.

Regardless, a sale is a sale and for some people this is the moment they've been waiting for all year 'round. Some of the hardest devices to find on sale do so during this time of year, so if you're looking to save a few bucks on a specific gadget it couldn't hurt to check out the different sales that are going on at different retailers - and in order to find the best deal, it's best to check with several retailers before making a final decision on where to go. (Tip: It's best to have a plan in motion to know where you're going before the day of. It's a lot less stressful this way!)

When looking for the best deal on gadgets, don't let the actual sale price of the device fool you. While the initial price cut might only be a measly $10-$20, lot of the time savings are also added in other ways such as added accessories or gift cards to the store that you're purchasing the gadget from in the first place. For example, Nokia is offering their Nokia Power Keyboard with the purchase of a Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet to anybody who purchases the tablet before December 2nd. With the keyboard being valued at $149, and the tablet being priced at $499 off-contract ($399 at AT&T and Verizon with a two-year contract) You could realistically only be spending about $250-$350 on a $400-$500 tablet. That's some pretty nice savings right there. You also have the added bonus that with this particular device you don't even have to go shopping right on Black Friday. You can take advantage of this sale right now if you felt like it, and you don't even need to get out of your pajamas. 

You also have deals like at Best Buy, where you can pick up some pretty big name flagships for super cheap. The HTC One will be on sale for just $30 and the iPhone 5c will only cost $52. Although both of those deals are great, they do require a two-year commitment along with them. Fortunately, Best Buy also has the famous Samsung Galaxy S III for sale for just $300 without a contract. Even if the flagship is coming up on being two years old, it's still a pretty decent device all around. Wal-Mart also has plenty of deals (and money makers) going on. You'll find that if you sign up for a two year contract with certain providers for certain phones at Wal-Mart you'll be able to earn money back in the form of gift cards. Phones like the Moto X, Galaxy Mega and Galaxy S III are part of Wal-Mart's Black Friday line-up. 

But aside from knowing all of the ins and outs of the best deals, you also have to determine where exactly you need to be in order to get these deals. Do you need to stand in line, or do you need to be online? While some deals are only available in store, others are only available online. It's important to read up on the details and stipulations behind each price cut. Another issue that people often find themselves running into is that stores will often times only stock a few of each product, so even if you get there extra early there is no guarantee that they'll have the gadget or item you want in stock by the time you get to where you need to be. There might also be a limit on how many you can pick up. Granted, most major retailers have things organized at this point so that you'll know before the doors even open whether you can get the deal you want or not. A lot of the time retailers hand out vouchers in line so you're guaranteed whatever product it is you wanted if you're one of the lucky first ones.

Shopping on Black Friday can be a stressful (yet frugal) experience, and whether you're shopping for that new smartphone you've been waiting all year for or just wanting to get in on some good deals, there are certainly ways to make the experience less stressful. It's been in my experience that knowing where to go, what time I should be there and what stipulations are behind the deals I'm interested in I have found that Black Friday shopping has been a whole lot easier in the end.

Readers, do you plan on going shopping on Black Friday this year? What gadgets are you hoping to buy? Let us know in the comments below!

Image via Guardian LV