Err on the side of quality.
Credit: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

Make this your sale-shopping cardinal rule, but especially on Black Friday: If you don't instantly connect with an item – a pattern is too offbeat or the fabric is scratchy or a feature of an appliance is missing, whatever – that's a pretty good indicator that you're only interested in something because it's supposedly a deal. "Don't mess around," Thoreson says. "If you have a connection to an item, and you like it, do buy it." But once you lay down cash for an item that's already a compromise you're doubly screwed: for one, you don't have the item you actually wanted, and now that you have something close enough, you're likely stuck with it (inertia is brutal). "You won't ever regret investing in quality," Thoreson counsels. "Some things you buy on a whim and as long as it's quality, those are often the things you end up liking the most." But the opposite, grasping at something random, simply to have something to buy, rarely works out. At best, it involves a second trip to the store, return receipt in hand and tail between legs. At worst, you're stuck with a long-lasting physical reminder of the folly of greed.