With Black Friday comes a myriad of sales that can either save you hundreds or eat your savings. Just because an item has a sharp discount on the sticker doesn’t mean that it’s actually a good deal, and just because people queue up to purchase a product doesn’t mean it’s worth the investment. This year’s Black Friday offerings promise to be tempting, and review site Fatwallet.com suggests that tablets and laptops as well as other traditional items will feature heavily in both online and store sales offerings. But don’t be swayed by steep discounts. Follow these three tips to make sure that you get the best bang for your buck when making a laptop purchase.

Research the Actual Value

The Wall Street Journal details a disturbing practice among many Black Friday sales events. Items advertised as being significantly marked down were never worth the original price. The original price tag reflects a price with the discount built in, so the final sales price on Black Friday is what the item is worth. So you might see a laptop advertised as normally being $1000 and now sold for $600, resulting in a supposed $400 savings. But the true value of that laptop was $600 the whole time. This may seem like a shady practice, but unfortunately it’s a common theme at this time of the year.

Not all products marked down on Black Friday fall into this category. Most stores advertise items like their Black Friday laptop deals on portals like BFads in advance. Jot down the ones you are interested in, and then go online to check reviews and other store sale prices. Look to see whether stores sell the product at the full price or whether the stores already marked it down. When doing research, opt for information sites rather than sales sites to confirm information. Consumer Reports and Cnet, for instance, often have balanced reviews from individuals who are not trying to sell products to consumers.

Avoid the High End Laptop

Laptops are among the top featured items in many Black Friday sales promos. For the most part, you can find some great deals, but Dealnews.com warns of one exception: the high end laptop.  High end laptops may be tempting, and they are often priced with the discount built in or they receive no discount at all. Not every product promoted in a Black Friday flyer is on sale. Sometimes it only reflects what the seller describes as a “low, low price.”

Dealnews.com also reports the high end or powerhouse laptops generally reach their lowest price points during the back to school sales through July and September. When combined with additional back to school sales specific to stores or school promotions, the savings stack up significantly during the late summer months. For most other laptops though, November is still the best time to score a great deal.

Don’t Worry as Much About the Warranty

Extended warranties can range anywhere from $100 – $300 or more, covering a myriad of services that often overlap with the standard warranty of merchantability and service guarantees. Laptops typically come with a standard warranty that covers key parts for up to one year and labor for up to 90 days. Cnet points out that majority of laptops and other electronic items will not require repairs within the three year period that most extended warranties cover. If something is going to go wrong, then it will generally go wrong within that first year. U.S. News agrees that in most cases extended warranties aren’t necessary for typical laptop purchases. If you purchase a laptop, only use it for a couple years, and then replace it, the warranty becomes even less valuable.

Some exceptions exist. If, for instance, you worry excessively about your laptop breaking, then the extra few hundred dollars might be money well spent. The other exception occurs when you purchase a laptop and keep it for four or more years. In that case, you need to research the durability and the specs and determine whether the warranty is a solid investment. The other exception is if you do not think you will have the resources to repair the laptop in the future and need to make sure it remains functioning for the entire period you own it.

Black Friday sales are one of the highlights of the holiday shopping period. But just because a store lists items on the promo doesn’t mean you are getting a good deal. Always research the actual value of the product before making the purchase. Avoid purchasing high end laptops during November and purchase them in the late summer months instead. And don’t worry as much about the warranty unless you fall into one of the exceptions. Happy shopping!

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