Black Friday: 4 secrets for extreme savings
You’ve got your menu decided, the table settings planned, the RSVPs noted and the desserts organized. After all, it takes a lot of hard work to ensure Turkey Day goes off without a hitch. Well, guess what? Putting that kind of pre-event effort into your Black Friday strategy will likewise make your day after Thanksgiving shopping spree one for the books.
Now, most of us wouldn’t just try to whip up a Thanksgiving dinner the morning of Nov. 26, and it’s not wise to just start shopping online or in stores without a little research, either. Here are four secrets to help you save the most and score the best deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Hint: Let your in-laws bring the pies and let us do the hard work for you.
Do your homework. Set your budget before you do anything else. Just like a private investigator wouldn’t take on a case without some sort of lead to go on, you shouldn’t hit the Black Friday sales without setting a spending limit. Nothing can ruin your holiday spirit faster than panic and regret over blowing your bank account in just a few hours (or minutes) time.
Figure out your limit and don’t go over it. A sure way to make Santa’s naughty list? Going into credit card debt because of impulsive holiday spending. If you need help, search online for holiday budget calculators.
Study up on sales. Every good detective has multiple sources, and, before hitting the Black Friday scene, you, too, need to do some investigating. Seek out the sales circulars for your favorite stores (many have already been leaked). Or, just check out our roundup of Black Friday deals (and visit often—we’re updating it daily).
Another hint: Bookmark your favorite store pages for easy access and follow savings bloggers who will often do all the pre-sales sleuthing and coupon combing for you.
For exclusive coupons and deals, be sure to like your favorite stores on Facebook and create a special email account to join store mailing lists (find more tips here). Make a list of all the sales you want to hit, along with any coupon info, free shipping codes or other promos so you’re ready to check out fast. Some sites will boot items out of your online shopping cart if merchandise is limited and other shoppers are quicker on the draw. Don’t let that happen to you!
Stick to your plan. Sure, that over-embellished, oddly shaped cardigan is a wee bit snug (OK, it’s uncomfortably tight), but it’s marked all the way down to $8.95! Step away from the computer. Back out of the dressing room. Just because something has been put on deep discount doesn’t mean you have to buy it—in fact, it may be such a steal because no one else wants it. You’ve already made your shopping list; now is not the time to go off-book.
Once you snag the deals you’re after, if you have some money left over, sure, splurge on that crazy DVD deal or marked-down toy you know your niece will love. But, before you pay, be aware of return policies. Many Black Friday deals will come with a final sale caveat and no one wants to get stuck with a sweater that looks like a joke.
One more savings strategy: If you’re heading to Grandma’s for the holidays, ship your online items directly to her house to save on extra shipping or baggage fees at the airport.
Set your alarm. Perhaps the best thing about shopping the Black Friday sales online is that there’s no worry about rolling out of bed at the crack of dawn (or in the black of night) to wait in long lines, elbow fellow frenzied shoppers for the best deals or stand in even longer lines to pay for your finds. However, you may still lose some shut-eye.
Many deals begin on Thanksgiving Day, at midnight or at other specified times, and you need to be logged on and ready. If you’re at a friend or family member’s on Black Friday, be sure you have Internet access ahead of time. In the time it takes for your uncle Stu to dig up his 38-digit case-sensitive Wi-Fi password, you might already have missed out on that doorbuster you had your heart set on. So, enjoy shopping in your pjs, pumpkin pie and double latte at the ready, but don’t forget you’re still competing with other online savings seekers for those often limited deals.