Get Ready for Black Friday

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For many of us, the end of the year holiday season is the prime shopping season, so let’s spend a few blog posts on “spending our money” wisely.  Let’s start with some tips to get ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving Thursday.  This is a great time to save whether on holiday gifts, goodies for yourself, or household needs.

Get Ready for Black Friday – Research

You can just browse the ads for your favorite retailers and I admit this is sometimes how I get gift ideas, but this could cause you to spend more on items you don’t really need.  Getting ready for Black Friday is easier when you get prepared.  It’s easier to stay focused when you start with a list.  Even gift shopping could be easier if you can list a few possibilities, or at least general categories for each person on your list.  Next pick the retailors that will most likely help with your listed items.  Before you start shopping, do some research so you know when you see a good deal.  Don’t be fooled just because you see a “30% Off” sign; know what the full price, typical price, and really good sale price actually is at a variety of stores.  Even when you buy something online, you can still check the online customer reviews.  Regardless where I purchase something, I still tend to check Amazon’s user reviews (and price) first for any major product.

Get Ready for Black Friday – Shop

Now with your solid preparation, you are ready to shop and avoid paying full price.  Next do some comparison shopping.  Many retailers post their Black Friday ads in advance.  Thus, you can investigate who has what you need and compare prices between several retailers, both “brick and mortar” and online.  Some websites offer previews of multiple Black Friday sales and ads like one of my favorites, www.dealnews.com.

Decide which items you need to go to a store and shop for with several hundred of your neighbors and which you can get online with potentially less time, hassle, and crowds.  I’m leery of those really good advertised specials that seem to be out-of-stock when you get there, which is another reason I personally like online deals; at least I’ll now instantly if they are out of something.  On the other hand, there is something special about seeing something before you hand over your money, and then walk thru the store carrying your treasures.  Remember to factor in the shipping costs and potential returns hassle when comparing stores versus online.

Not many Black Friday retailers have coupons; check your newspaper (that thing that gets printed and delivered in some people’s yards every week or even every day).  You can use your loyalty reward cards to get discounts or reward points, like the TARGET REDCard that gets you 5% discounts or SEARS/KMART “Shop your way” points.  Don’t forget the small retailers in your area that can trade the huge crowds for the personal touch you may enjoy.  American Express will give you more reward points on “Small Business Saturday”.  When you shop online, remember to check for promo codes, online comparison websites, and cash back websites like www.ebates.com.

Of course there is an app for that, but avoid the many apps that just slap “black Friday” on the name to get your attention.  Here are two useful apps:

Don’t get carried away during this shopping season or I might have to resurrect my blog posts about dealing with debt and credit cards.

About John Kimball

Over the past few decades, I have experienced most of these financial issues with both mistakes and successes. I sure wish someone had told me these things when I was first starting out. So many times I have cried out, "I want a do over!" when I learned a new financial lesson or tip. I aim to pass along to you the financial insights I have gained from experience, reading, analysis, and living the financial aspects of managing, saving, investing, and spending your money. I am an analyst with a large organization and happily married with two children on their way to an expensive college, no doubt. I read numerous financial blogs, websites, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, and books to bring you the latest news, insights, tips, and lessons combined with decades of experience.

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