Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest shopping days of the year with department stores, retail stores, and malls packed full with shoppers looking for huge savings. No one wants to waste money these days, so most of us are trying to find ways to cut costs and save dollars to maximize our shopping budgets. Holiday shopping is no exception. Before going out to battle the crowds in search of the best bargain prices, there are some savvy shopper tips to keep in mind.
Make a shopping list and stick to it. Know what you need beforehand. Check store advertisements ahead of time to find out if any of the items on your list are being offered at a discount price. Being well prepared can save time, and maybe frustration, too.
Control your spending. Overspending is certain to get you one thing–more debt. Plan your holiday budget before stepping one foot in the mall. If you know how much you can spend from the start, you will have a better idea of what you can get each person on your gift list. Ignore all those enticing holiday displays and head directly to the items on your list. Shop only at stores that you can afford.
Collect coupons. This is an easy way to save money and can help you get the best deals at the lowest prices. Print free coupons found online to use at your favorite brick and mortar stores (see Resources). While some coupons can only be redeemed at particular stores, others are good at any chain store. Find out in advance whether local retailers where you shop accept coupons printed online.
Shop for bargains online. Even if you don’t purchase items online, you can compare prices in advance. But you can frequently save money by buying the same item online. There are a lot of advantages, (other than saving money), to shopping online. You can avoid those frenzied holiday crowds. You don’t have to fight traffic or wait in long checkout lines. You will save money on gas, and you will probably have more choices. Many online distributors offer savings coupons, instant rebates and free shipping at holiday time.
Find out which stores match competitors’ prices. It helps to bring along the ad when you shop so that you can prove the item is on sale somewhere else at a reduced price. Many stores offer a lowest price guarantee for a specified number of days after the date of purchase.
Use a credit card, but pay off the balance in full when you receive the bill. This is one time when there might actually be some advantages to charging your purchases. Many credit cards offer a free extended warranty by matching the manufacturer’s original warranty. This can be a definite plus when purchasing any big-ticket items or electronics on your shopping list. Charging the purchase to a cash-back credit card or one that offers reward points saves you even more.
Send different family members to another store, or to different aisles in the same store. This may get you to those super sales bargains quicker before an item you want sells out. It helps to know the layout of the store so that you can beat other shoppers to the draw. If you know where to find it in advance, you have a better chance of getting to it sooner.
Do business only with stores that have a return policy. Some shoppers will buy an item the week before when the selection is still good, and then return it to get the sale price when it goes on sale on Black Friday. Many stores now honor Black Friday discount prices for up to one week following the sale. Just make certain about a store’s return policy before you purchase.