Chances are, you are already planning your holiday shopping. You might even be looking ahead toward Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With retailers still trying to lure customers into spending, this year offers the potential for some great deals on the biggest shopping days of the year. Here are some shopping tips that can help you get through the mess and score the deals.
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This day is famous for ridiculous door-busters, long lines and emergency room visits by the trampled. While there isn’t much you can do to avoid the frenzy (other than stay home, of course), there are some things you can do to make your own shopping experience a little less harried:
- Make list: In any shopping maneuver, a list can help you plan ahead and shop more efficiently. Look through sales fliers and check out www.black-friday.net for information on which stores are offering what deals. Then you can prioritize the items on your list, and plan out a route according to what is most important to you. Also list any Black Friday coupons you have that can be used to further reduce the prices of desired items.
- Visit the store the day before Thanksgiving: After you know what you are looking for, visit the stores ahead of time. Familiarize yourself where the desired items are located in the store. Make friends with a sales associate to find out if there will be additional discounts, or if you can reserve something ahead of time (for most doorbusters, though, associates aren’t allowed to do this).
- Leave the uninterested home: I have absolutely no desire to go out on Black Friday. Rather than tow my son and I grumpily through the crowds, my husband — who enjoys shopping — goes early by himself. He’s also more mobile on his own, and moves faster.
- Coordinate with other shoppers: Compare lists with friends and relatives. You can help each other shop by assigning different people to different stores. You can also use cell phones to aid in coordination, but be warned: Your intended recipient may not hear the phone in the noise, or may not have enough free hands to answer a text.
- Avoid distractions: Make sure you focus on the sale items you want. Avoid distractions in the form of non-sale items and sale items that you really have no use for. The point of the Black Friday shopping exercise is to get in, get what you want, and get out — without paying full price.
Finally, try to be a considerate shopper. It can be difficult to do so, but make an effort to avoid the stampede. Try to help those that are down by standing up straight, planting your feet firmly and putting your arms out in front of you to create a pocket of relatively safety. You may not get the exact item you are looking for, but your dignity and conscience will be intact.
Make an early preparation with these Black Friday coupons.
Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving. It is the busiest Internet shopping day of the year. You can get a jump on the deals by coordinating with friends and family, visiting www.CyberMonday.com, check out our Cyber Monday coupons and deals, or by signing up for the email lists offered by your favorite stores.
Online Shopping Tips
Cyber Monday is not much different than normal online shopping and the same tips apply:
- Use Ebates — You immediately get up to $10 bonus for signing up an account. Sign-in to Ebates and visit online stores through them (there are over 1,200 participating stores) to earn cash back for your purchases (see how Ebates works).
- Use Coupon Codes — Many times, you can stack Ebates cash back with coupon codes. Make sure you type in the coupon code instead of using the click to reveal type coupon codes (because these will override your Ebates cash back). A few places like our very own coupons section and FatWallet.com that allow you to see the coupon code without clicking.
- Use Cash Back Credit Cards – In addition to the cash back and savings above, you can squeeze out up to another 5% using cash back credit cards. Moreover, credit card purchases often come with extended warranty and extra protections.
Make an early preparation with these Cyber Monday coupons.
Additionally, here are some online safety tips to help you survive Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is one of the biggest days for ID thieves and hackers, and you need to be on your guard. Here are some tips for protecting yourself while shopping on Cyber Monday:
- Update your computer protection: Make sure that your online security software is all updated. You want your anti-virus, firewall, and anti-spyware software all as it should be, and set your security to at least medium.
- Go directly to the store’s website: Don’t trust links in emails, even if you think the email comes from a mailing list you signed up for. Instead, type in the URL of the store directly. This can help you from entering personal information on a bogus site designed to steal your ID. Visit the stores ahead of time to verify their web addresses. You can even bookmark them for easy access on the big day.
- Don’t send personal information via email: Never send payment information, Social Security Numbers or other sensitive via email, no matter who asks for it. Reputable banks and retailers won’t ask for you to email them this information. Again, don’t enter information, such as logins, passwords or other personal information, into a site that you linked to from an email. Type the known address directly.
- Properly log off: When you are done with a transaction, completely sign out of your account. Clear your cookies and close the window. This might take a few extra seconds, but it can help protect you from unscrupulous third parties.
In the end, how well you do on Black Friday and Cyber Monday depends on good planning. Do what you can ahead of time to prepare, and you will get through your shopping faster, and probably enjoy a more cost-efficient experience.
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.