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Posted by on Nov 8, 2012 in Guest Posts | 0 comments

5 Tips to Navigate Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two days during the year, where consumers can count on BIG discounts. They are also the biggest shopping days of the year for retailers, who often make a significant chunk of their revenues during this time. So, how do you, as a shopper, get the most out of the savings opportunities and steer clear of the marketing traps?

Here are 5 of our best savings tips to help you navigate Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Black Friday

1. Create A List & STICK TO IT!

Preparation is key here, and a little research before hand will go a long way on shopping day.

  • Only buy the items you really want. Its easy to get distracted by all of the ‘great deals’ on Black Friday, but if it was not on your list it may just be an extra expense, rather then a savings opportunity.
  • Avoid Bait and Switch marketing techniques. Retailers will put basic models of products on sale, and then offer the upgraded models right next to it for more money. Or they may offer limited quantity of the sale item and when if it is sold out, you are tempted to buy the upgraded model.
  • Know what the items on your list cost, so you can determine how good the deal is. Following the Black Friday websites to get the ad scans early & map out the best deals. Check out price comparison sites like Pricegrabber.com or Nextag.com, so you will know what the best deal is.
  • Keep a calculator with you, and add your total as you shop. Running Total will do this for you on an iPhone. It cost $1.09 but keeps a running total of how much you’re spending
  • Christmas Gift List Spending is another app that will help you create and track your list of gift idea.

2. Shop Smart (With Your Smart Phone That Is).

  • Sign up for text messages from your favorite retailers if they offer that option. Many send coupons or promo codes for extra savings.
  • Use apps to help you find what items are selling for around town. Red Laser (iphone or android), Shop Savvy Barcode Scanner (free, Android), Amazon Mobile App (compare prices to Amazon’s current price) and Google Shopper are a few that do this.
  • Foursquare, ShopKick and other apps will let you earn discounts or rewards when they check in to stores in person. For example, check in at Sports Authority & spend $100, get a $25 cash card and more earning opportunities!
  • Use QR Codes- QR codes provide more information about the product, and more recently they may also contain additional savings (coupon codes, etc.).

3. Price Matching – Do All Your Shopping At One Store!

  • Many stores will price match these days. Some will even price match online prices! Be sure to get to know the policies of the stores you plan to shop at.
  • Walmart price matches Black Friday deals on Black Friday! Be sure to bring the competitors’ ads with you, and Walmart will match the price of any identical product right at the register!

4. Check Out Gift Card Deals Ahead Of Time.

Gift cards act like cash, so if you find a deal on gift cards you can use them to make your purchases and still take advantage of other promotions (like coupons, promo codes, etc.).

  • For example, pay $90 right now to get $100 Barnes and Noble gift cards at Deal Boutique Kiosks in Safeway stores.
  • Grocery stores will often offer catalina coupons (coupons you can spend on a future shopping trip) when you buy gift cards through them. If you purchase gift cards for stores you know you will be shopping at on Black Friday, you can get extra money (in the form of a catalina coupon) to spend.
  • You can buy discounted gift cards like through PlasticJungle.com or Saveology.

5. Shop Online (No, You Do Not Have To Wait For Cyber Monday To Do This)

  • Watch Amazon Lightning Deals - these are daily deals that are only available for a very limited time. You can get some great deals by grabbing them while they are available!
  • Check out sites like TheBlackFriday.com to know what deals may be available in store and online. You can start shopping for the online deals at 12:01 am on most sites, and save yourself a trip out.
  • More stores will be starting their sales on Thanksgiving this year. If you don’t want to miss the family festivities, but still want to get the savings, consider shopping those deals from the comfort of your home.

Cyber Monday

1. Be ONLINE!

Many of these deals will come and go throughout the day. In order to save the most on Cyber Monday you need some flexibility to be able to shop online that day. The best deals go fast, so you will need to grab them when you find them.

Cyber Monday has become bigger each year. Some great deals are anticipated this year, and with the cost of gas going up, sometimes these deals make more sense – even if they include shipping fees (but pay attention to the added on shipping fees, and look for deals with FREE Shipping!).

2. Be Ready With Coupon Codes

  • Check sites like Valpak.com or Savings.com for coupon codes currently available.
  • Use cash back sites like Ebates.com to save even more.
  • Join your favorite retailers email lists ahead of time. Many of them will offer you an introductory coupon code to shop online, but it can take a day or two before you get them. Don’t join too far in advance though, some will expire as soon as 5-7 days after issuing.

3. Follow Your Favorite Retailers On Social Media Sites.

Make sure to “like” your favorite retailers Facebook pages or follow them on Twitter. Many have been known to advertise special savings to their fans and followers!

4. Utilize Cyber Monday websites to find deals for you.

You can sign up to receive daily emails from the following sites, so you will be alerted to new promotions and sales for Cyber Mondays. Be sure to check out the List Making tip up in the Black Friday section. It applies to Cyber Monday too.

5. Pay Attention Shipping Costs & Return Policies.

When you are shopping online you will want the option to return items if they are not what you expected, are damaged, etc. Make sure the deals allow for reasonable return policies (they cover the cost of returns, consider timeframes, etc.).

  • Many sites will be offering FREE shipping deals or special promo codes for free shipping. Since shipping can cost anywhere from $2 to $20, depending on the site. free shipping offers can save you quite a bit. Many times a free shipping offer alone makes for a great deal, if you use it to shop the clearance section of a retailers site.
  • Sign up for a free trial membership at ShopRunner and Amazon Prime a week or two ahead of time, so you can take advantage of their FREE shipping on Cyber Monday. Just be sure to cancel before the trial period is up, if you do not want to continue with the paid membership.

I know we said we were only going to share 5 tips each, but here is a bonus tip you can use for both days: Have Fun!! It’s not worth saving a few dollars if it is a miserable experience. Be prepared to be patient, be kind to others, stop for treats, take a friend, and make it an adventurous day full of good memories.

Guest bloggers Jen Dotson and Sia Hills are Savings.com DealPros and founders of website Thrifty NW Mom, a one-stop resource for ways to save money all around the Pacific Northwest.

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