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Black Friday and Cyber Monday Buyer’s Guide

The days after Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Originally created to put retailers “in the black” on their accounting ledgers, Black Friday has become synonymous with early morning shoppers getting great deals. In recent years, the day has even burst online, with “Cyber Monday” deals. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have crept forward to offer shoppers deals even before the end of Thanksgiving Day.

Pre-Black Friday Planning Tips:

  • Start checking weekly ads now, so you have a feel for what prices look like, so you know a great deal when you look through Black Friday ads (slowly becoming available).
  • Check both paper ads and online ads, and compare online and brick-and-mortar store prices.
  • Make a list. Stick to it as much as possible, to avoid impulse purchases you may regret later. Prioritize for what you really want and need. You can’t chase every great deal!
  • Connect with retailers via social media and email, so you can get store coupons for added savings.
  • Check out available coupons or rewards programs that allow you to earn gift cards or reward dollars for your purchases. This can help you stack your savings even more!
  • Check out our article on what to buy, and what to avoid (for now). This isn’t the best week to get everything you may want, and we tease out what will be on sale soon.

Black Friday Shopping Tips:

  • Make an itinerary. Know which stores you’ll be hitting, and the best ways to travel between them.
  • Be sure you know which coupons must be printed out and which can be used on mobile devices.
  • Organize coupons and gift cards in an accordion file (I got mine at the dollar store)—you can even put your shopping lists and receipts for each store in there too!
  • Familiarize yourself with the price-matching and return policies of each store. Your credit cards may also have price protection policies, allowing you to be guaranteed the lowest prices of the items you buy, even if that’s after you buy it.
  • Bring a see through or mesh reusable shopping bag, so you don’t have to fight for a shopping cart (or maneuver around the crowded store with one).
  • Stash snacks and water bottles in your car or bag, so you don’t have to stop at a crowded coffee shop or drive-through while dashing between stores.
  • Wait if a deal isn’t good enough…Cyber Monday may have a better deal!

Cyber Monday Shopping Tips:

  • Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date! You’re dealing with financial information you don’t want getting out!
  • Hit the web early. Pre-holiday sales have already gotten started, and Cyber Monday now begins even before Thanksgiving!
  • Remember that many online sales are limited to a few hours.
  • Consider signing up for an online account with each retailer (if you haven’t already) so that your information could be entered previously and saved. I like using one email for this type of thing, so my regular email isn’t inundated with ads and other store emails!
  • Make sure your billing and mailing addresses are updated before Cyber Monday shopping. Nothing like an online billing snafu to miss out on a great deal!

What (Not) to Buy on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

If you’re looking to get the absolute best price on Black Friday, we suggest you consider holding off on these items, as they will usually hit lower prices later on.

  1. Jewelry: Hold off until Valentine’s Day! Most pieces will hit their lowest prices then.
  2. Winter clothing items: Hold off until season close-out, just a few months from now!
  3. Toys: Most toy prices will continue to decrease as Christmas approaches, so unless it’s for an item that is likely to become unavailable, you may want to hold off. Also, many Black Friday prices on toys are for older models, or no-name toys that are likely to break quickly.
  4. Televisions: Most discounted televisions will be older models, or off brands. (They also tend to lack features like 3D, or you could face markups on HDMI cords or other overpriced accessories.) Better to hold off until the new models come out in the new year (just in time for the Super Bowl!) and you can enjoy a great, recent-model TV for less than what’s on sale in November.
  5. Christmas décor: Obviously, most Christmas/holiday décor won’t be available at a discounted price until at least the week before Christmas. If you want to gift a holiday-themed gift (which could only be used by the recipient for a limited time) consider planning ahead for next year, so you can hold off until the day after Christmas sales start, when most items start undergoing massive discounts.
  6. Warranties: Before plopping down big money on an extended warranty, ensure that the item doesn’t already have one from the manufacturer. See if you can come back to the retailer at a later time, after reviewing the warranty terms, to ensure it meets your needs.

Great deals and bargains!

  1. Winter accessories: Gloves, scarves and hats make great stocking stuffers, so you can find quality pieces at a steal.
  2. Off brand electronics: If name brands don’t matter to you, you can score great prices on electronics like DVD players, tablets, and more.
  3. DVDs: Just in time for stocking stuffers or gift baskets, you can score some DVDs for as low as $1.99.
  4. Kitchen gadgets: Because many people bake and entertain for the holiday, many merchants discount kitchen electronics and gadgets. Pre-packaged food items may be discounted during this season as well.