Do your homework.
Credit: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Especially if you're in the market for a big-ticket item – a pair of skis, camping gear, or the Black Friday staple, a big-screen TV – know the market before you set out. You'll be better prepared to avoid seductive deals that turn out to be just low priced but low-rated gear. "There's a reason stores are trying to get rid of things at such discounts," Thoreson point out. "Don't get fooled into buying something that is essentially a phony deal." Yes, some items are loss leaders that retailers use to lure you inside, but many stores use Black Friday as an opportunity to liquidate outdated merchandise and last year's technology – and they generously sprinkle these "bargains" in among the loss leaders, making it harder to distinguish a steal from a rip-off. Before you set out, have a shopping list ready of items you want, and spend a couple of minutes checking ratings on reviews sites (including or even Amazon to see whether models on sale are worth pursuing. And if you find yourself at Walmart, keep in mind there's a reason that laptop is going for $178.