7 Things Not to Buy on Black Friday

If I had to choose one word to describe Black Friday, it would be pande-frickin'-monium. Consumers go berserk for doorbusters, big deals, and deep discounts, but all may not be as it seems. Take a look at these typical Black Friday "best buys" that are anything but to help stretch your budget and keep your sanity in check.

1. Virtual Reality Headsets

Primitive virtual reality headsets have been around for a few years now, but they're just starting to enter mainstream technology now that major tech players, like Sony, are designing their own devices. The main problem here, however, is that the tech still isn't where it needs to be to justify the high cost of these coveted Christmas-list items.

"Though it's tempting to get your hands on a virtual reality headset, we recommend sitting it out for one more year," suggests BuyVia, a website and mobile app that combines in-store and online shopping across smartphones, tablets, and laptops. "In order for the headset to be worthwhile, you need a high-end fast PC, which can be pricey without giving you great results. For instance, The Core i5 processor will run you at least $800, plus the Nvidia GTX 970 video card. The PlayStation VR costs $400 but is still pretty slow, and has limited software selection and tracking problems."

Of course, given VR's popularity right now, you do run the risk of crushing someone's holiday hopes, like, big time, if you opt out on this item — but, eh, whatever. There's always next year.

2. Winter Apparel

It's not that you won't find great deals on winter apparel this time of year, but Black Friday may not be the best day to go on a shopping spree for the long johns and wool socks that your nephews are totally dreading. (Seriously — eeeevery year, lady?)

"While you're sure to see deals on select clothing items during Black Friday, it's better to hold off until Cyber Monday when sitewide savings of 60% plus free shipping give you more options," says savings expert Kendal Perez of Coupon Sherpa. "Black Friday clothing deals are often limited to one brand or style — a crew-neck cashmere sweater, for example. What's more, discounts on winter clothing and boots are deeper in January, when these garments go on clearance to make room for spring styles, which typically debut on showroom floors in February."

3. Health and Beauty Items

Like clothing, wait until Cyber Monday and deeper-in-December sales. Prices on individual items and sets, as well as discounts for brands and subcategories, will be much better.

"You may find a few spectacular doorbuster-like deals on makeup, polish, and fragrances, but waiting until the traditional storewide discounts we see on Cyber Monday will bring you a bigger selection of items to choose from," FatWallet.com's Brent Shelton says.

Or you can do what I do: Wait until after the holidays to pick up grooming sets, from brands like Axe and Old Spice, at slashed prices and stash them away until next year. Just make sure the products won't expire within a year or two. Which is important — unless you like the idea of giving your brother a holiday rash.

4. Tools

You may be getting fooled on tools on Black Friday, according to Mike Catania, founder of thesaving community PromotionCode.org.

"While there are plenty of Black Friday 'sales' for tools, the reality is that they're marked up more for the holidays than any other time of the year," he says. The offers look good on paper — up to 30% off — but the original price is 40% higher than it was at the end of summer. This is particularly true for tools in the quality range beneath 'pro-sumer.'"

This doesn't mean that hubby can't get the new table saw that he'll use once before he starts using it as a storage surface. Just do your research and compare prices before purchasing.

5. 1080p HDTVs

Flat-screen TVs have long been a staple of Black Friday doorbusters — many shoppers have the trample marks to prove it. But this year, 1080p versions are hitting the skids for higher-end (but still affordable) 4K HDTVs.

"4K is definitely the future of TV, and the price has dropped significantly over the last year; a 50-inch 4K HDTV is about $400," writes BuyVia in a recent blog post about Black Friday. "4Ks are optimized for Blu-ray, Netflix, Amazon, DirectTV, and YouTube, and you can add Smart TV functionality with an inexpensive $40 Roku box. Plus, if you want to spend a little more money, you can find a 4K TV with HDR imaging for incredible image quality."

The one and only issue I have with this trend — and full disclosure, I own 4K TVs myself — is that cable technology hasn't caught up with TV tech. It may be another year or two until you'll get the full experience of 4K, but you can at least take advantage of the Internet-connected "smart" part of the sets in the meantime.

6. Home Furnishings

The general consensus here is that you should avoid buying new furniture this time of year, not just specifically on Black Friday. Perez explains why.

"Black Friday is all about doorbuster deals on TVs, gaming consoles, tablets, and other electronics," she says. "Rarely do we see an epic deal on love seats and recliners, and Black Friday deals for national chains like Crate & Barrel, West Elm, Pottery Barn, and the like are minimal, often limited 15% to 20% off select items and deals on holiday accessories which don't compete with post-holiday sales. Furniture deals are better in January and July/August, when new styles debut and clearance prices offer better savings compared to Black Friday discounts."

7. Gift Cards

Boy, do I love a good gift card — mostly so I can exchange all the long johns and wool socks my aunt gave me yet again and get what I want. Deal-wise, though, you're better off waiting until December to stock up on these precious pieces of plastic, says Perez.

"Gift cards are a better buy in December when restaurants and select retailers offer bonus cards with gift card purchases. In the past, we've seen free $5 to $25 bonus gift cards with purchase of restaurant gift cards $25 to $50 from Chili's, Benihana, Olive Garden, and more. Retailers like LL Bean, DSW, The Children's Place, and Toys 'R Us also offered free gift cards ranging from $5 to $25 last December with select purchases."

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Black Friday shoppers go berserk for big deals, and deep discounts, but all may not be as it seems. Take a look at these typical Black Friday "best buys" that are anything but to help stretch your budget and keep your sanity in check. | #blackfriday #shopping #shoppingtips


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