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5 things to avoid on black Friday

Black Friday is a money- and time-sucking vortex. Here’s what not to do this year.

To make the most of Black Friday, follow the Wirecutter Deals page, where Wirecutter staff members will be constantly updating their list of researched deals that are actually worth your time.

Black Friday is a highly anticipated day for shoppers who can’t resist a good deal. For others, it’s an overwhelming 24-hour marathon in which the pressure to buy anything (everything?) feels unbearable. For me, watching a timer count down the minutes until the discounts expire causes panic, and most years I end up buying nothing.

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But there’s no longer a reason to panic on Black Friday, thanks to Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products. Through our obsessive price-tracking and deal-finding for the Wirecutter Deals page and daily deals newsletter, my co-workers and I know that some bargains get posted as early as Nov. 1, turning Black Friday from one high-stress day into an entire month rich with discounts. That counting clock creates a sense of urgency, and sometimes you do have to buy quickly before a deal expires. But more often than not, you can take an extra few minutes to verify details and really think about your needs.

So don’t stress this Black Friday. Here are five other things the Wirecutter Deals team recommends you avoid this year while you hunt for the best deals on things you actually need.

Remember hoverboards and fidget spinners? We’ve all fallen for culture-consuming fads at one time or another, spending money on something that won’t be around by the end of the year. Even if you think you’re impervious, stores may tempt you this Black Friday: According to my colleague, the Wirecutter Deals editor Nathan Burrow, this holiday usually offers heavy discounts on trendy items. For example, this year you’re likely to see impressive price drops on electric scooters. They’ve become ubiquitous, popping up in cities alongside short-term rental bikes, but according to our testing, they’re unreliable, faulty and, in some cases, dangerous. Resist until you’ve done your research and you’re sure you’ll want the gadget a few months from now.

[Get great gift ideas from the 2019 Holiday Gift Guide from The New York Times.]

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Some people think Black Friday is the best time to buy big-ticket items. That’s not necessarily the case, especially if you’re shopping for expensive exercise equipment. January offers some of the best deals we see on treadmills and ellipticals. Though there are rare instances during Cyber Week where you’ll find low prices on home exercise machines that match January’s discounts, you’re better off waiting. Not only will the items be more steadily available, but there’s also a better chance you’ll put that treadmill to use immediately. Let’s face it: You’re likely to put off your workouts until you have a New Year’s resolution to work on.

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You don’t have to rush Walmart to nab great deals. You don’t even have to be glued to your phone for website deals before dawn — we know from years of experience that it’s almost never worth it. “The ‘doorbusters’ are often on items that aren’t worth busting doors for,” Mr. Burrow said. The 55-inch TVs that drop to $200 are often less-familiar brands; the vacuums with price tags that fall a few hundred dollars aren’t Dysons. If lining up at midnight is something your family considers a tradition, we won’t stop you. But keep in mind that most times, you’re better off passing on the meh deals that are thrown your way.

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Last year, Mr. Burrow snagged a great Black Friday deal on six 75-ounce jugs of laundry detergent. It wasn’t until the package arrived on his doorstep that he realized he didn’t have the space to store his bounty. Though he hasn’t needed to replenish his stock yet, the jugs clutter his basement, blocking the path to the rest of his storage space. This is why buying in bulk is almost always better in theory than in practice. The same goes for buying anything perishable, said Mr. Burrow, who also purchased a 100-pack of Peet’s Coffee espresso capsules that he was unable to finish before they expired.


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