Black Friday & Cyber Monday: A Few Tips

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are known for the amazing and sometimes unbelievable deals that become available. However, if you do not know what you are doing, this can become a difficult time that could lead to you actually spending more than you want. In this special post, I will be listing off a few tips and things that I use to make Black Friday and Cyber Monday a little less stressful.

Plan Ahead

The first thing you should do in preparation for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to make a plan. When the sales begin, things tend to sell out quickly. If you go into it blind, you may find it difficult to find the items you were wanting still in stock.
  • *Make a list of the items you would like to get.
  • *Take advantage of all of the flyers from where you plan on shopping. This will give you an idea of what will actually be going on sale.
  • *Now list the items you want, that are going to be going on sale. I would recommend organizing the list based on importance and which items will sell out the fastest.
Making a list can make it easier to navigate the chaos (especially in-store). You know exactly what you want, which will give you something to focus on. It can also help you stay away from needless impulse purchases that you could later regret.

Research

Sometimes you will see a deal for Black Friday and Cyber Monday that looks like a pretty amazing one. You take advantage of it, only to find out there was a better one or to see the same deal pop up a few days/weeks later. This can be incredibly annoying, which is why a little bit of research is needed. For online shoppers, it is also a good idea to find out some information about the sites you plan on buying from. 
  • *Once again, take advantage of the flyers. Look at both the ones that come from places you are planning on shopping at and the ones that are competitors to those places. Many stores will have the same things on sale, and this will help you find out which one is really going to have the best prices.
  • *When you have an idea of what you want, look up the current prices of those items so you can compare them to the sale prices. This will help you decide if the sale price is actually worth it, or if it may be better to just wait.
  • *If you are shopping in-store, make sure you know the layout of the places you plan on going to (especially if it is a place you do not go to often). You should also find out what time the sales will be beginning where you plan on shopping.
  • *For online shoppers, you should figure out which sites you plan on using. Have your account all set up and your payment information ready to go. Make sure you know if the site has any specials (discount codes, free shipping, etc) beforehand. Some sites have special benefits if you are a new customer. You should also check to see if they have a newsletter or online flyers.

Additional In-Store Shopping Tips

I do most of my shopping online, so unfortunately I do not have many tips for those of you who plan on fighting the crowds. Hopefully the ones I do have will be useful.
  • *SLEEP! After you have done all of the planning and researching and you have enjoyed a day full of food and family, make sure to get some sleep. The sales start early (ridiculously early if you ask me) so make sure to set an alarm to help you wake up if you plan on waiting in line or going as soon as the sales begin.
  • *Be aware of your surroundings. Some people get a little crazy on Black Friday. Every year there are reports of fights breaking out and people getting trampled in crowds. Also make sure to be more aware while in parking lots. These sales bring out a lot of people, which means more people rushing around in and out of cars that could lead to accidents.
  • *Please refrain from taking your small children. Big crowds full of grumpy people who have not had much sleep and/or are hungover. Do you really think that is the best place for your kids to be? Not to mention how much easier it can be to lose them.

Additional Online Shopping Tips

Shopping online helps you avoid the stress of dealing with the crowds. It also allows you to do all of your shopping while still in your pjs and being lazy in bed.
  • *I would tell you to sleep, but there's not much of a point. 
  • *Most sales start at 12am PST. Make sure that if you do not live in the PST areas that you adjust for your time. (3am EST, 2am CST, 1am MST, etc)
  • *Be prepared to deal with overwhelmed sites. Some online stores will go down or become incredibly slow due to the sudden amount of visitors.
  • *Be smart and quick. Popular items sell out very fast, so if you are trying to take advantage of the sales AND meet free shipping requirements, you need to know exactly what you want (remember the plan from earlier) and check out quickly. What I like to do is have some items that I need to get or I was already planning on getting saved in my cart (some carts have a save for later option). When the sales start, I add the stuff I want the most and try to check out asap. If I need more to meet a free shipping requirement, I add something from the saved later area.
  • *Speaking of free shipping requirements, why not just avoid them? Amazon has Prime and Walmart has Shipping Pass. They both offer free trials. Amazon Prime members also get to have access to deals before non-members and even get some deals that are for them only.
  • *Don't just spend, earn as well. There are several sites that you can use to earn cash back from almost all of your shopping. (I'll provide some links at the bottom)
  • *Unlike a lot of online stores, Amazon slowly releases items throughout the day weekend. Look ahead and make a note of when the items you want will be available. They also tend to have most of the same deals that Walmart has. If you miss out on something you wanted from Walmart (especially movies), keep an eye on what Amazon has scheduled.

Helpful links and Addons

Earn:
  • *Swagbucks: You can earn cash back from most popular online stores and for buying gift cards. This is also a great site for everyday use. You earn "swagbucks" that you can redeem for gift cards, charitable donations, or Paypal deposits by taking surveys, watching videos and shopping. I have been using this site for several years and can promise you it is legit and their customer service is very nice.
  • *Honey: Honey is a site that helps you find discount codes and pays you cash back for your purchases. On some sites it helps you find the cheapest price for an item. They also have an addon for Chrome.
  • *Ebates: This is probably the most popular cash back site. They also have addons for both Chrome and Firefox.
When using these, make sure to disable any adblocker you may be using. They can sometimes interfere and keep you from getting paid.

Research:

The most important thing to remember when shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday:

Breathe and stay calm. The excitement can be overwhelming and it can be disappointing when you miss out on a deal or something you wanted sold out before you could get it. Try not to let the grumpy and rude people bother you.  Be kind to your cashiers and be polite when talking to customer service. It is not their fault if something is out of stock and it is not their fault if the lines are long. At the end of the day, it is all just stuff. Most of it you can totally do without and it is not the end of the world.