The holidays are almost here, and like many of us, you're ready to start shopping. Stores are already promoting that Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials, some of which just seem too good to be true. It's possible to score amazing deals for everyone on your shopping list this year, but you'll need a little planning and information first.
Are Black Friday and Cyber Monday the Same Deals?
Some stores are exclusively online or brick-and-mortar, but more and more, we've seen a combination of the two. You can buy online and pick up in-store, or you may see a retailer's online shop is similar to what's on their shelves. Despite the melding of the two shopping experiences, the Black Friday deals and the Cyber Monday deals aren't always the same.
Electronics and household goods tend to be the more popular black Friday options, while clothing, toys, jewelry, and other "soft lines" are more popular on Cyber Monday. Retailers like to draw customers into the stores on Black Friday by offering deeply discounted TVs, tablets, or gaming consoles. Bear in mind, however, that the door-buster draws may have a limited number of items. For instance, Best Buy may only have 5 of the 60%-off big-screen TVs that they advertise.
If you aren't early enough to get the big-ticket score that you want, you may find great deals on older model electronics. Retailers use the Black Friday influx of shoppers to move older items to make room for the latest gadgets. For clothing, the very best deals are often in the week before Christmas, but think carefully, as the more popular sizes may already have sold out by then.
Is It a Good Deal or Not?
Now is the best time to start your research, especially if you're shopping for a larger or more expensive item. For electronics and appliances, get the exact product number of your desired item from the manufacturer. Then, you can use the web to search prices for it on the sites of major retailers. Compare these prices to those in-store too. Watching how the prices fluctuate and gathering an average of what your phone or computer costs an give you a sense of whether the Black Friday mark-down is a deal worth snapping up.
Download the App
If you aren't already a member of the store's loyalty program, join that and download their app. You may find exclusive deals offered through the app, which can make Cyber Monday shopping a cinch. Many stores also offer coupons and discounts through their apps or will send them out via email to their loyalty club members. There are also third-party apps, such as Retail-Me-Not, which offer coupons and discounts for hundreds of stores through their app, and will even give you rewards if you shop your preferred retailer through their app.
Stacking these deals on top of the sales can save you even more money, just make sure to read the fine print about exclusions.
Create a Budget
Before you start shopping, make a list of who you're buying for, what you're planning to gift them, and the dollar amount you wish to spend. Planning in advance can help you stick to your holiday budget – it's never wise to go into debt buying gifts or things that aren't necessities.
When you're shopping in stores or online, seeing the great deals can be exciting, and can lead to impulse buys. Retailers know this and have designed their signage and online shopping experiences to be as tempting as possible. You may be excited about all the money you're saving, but not take into account all the money you're spending. So even if it's a good deal, if the item isn't fitting in your budget, leave it on the shelf.
Don't Forget Small Business Saturday!
Holiday shopping wouldn't be complete without mentioning the day after Black Friday – Small Business Saturday. Your local boutiques and stores have their own day to show off and offer the best deals, so don't forget to shop locally for that one-of-a-kind item!