If you thought Thanksgiving weekend was just for mashed potatoes and football, you were so wrong. If they stores have it their way, you’ll ditch your beloved friends and family before you’ve digested your pecan pie to kick off the shopping season! opportunity to save big time online and in stores. Which means if you do a little planning, you can nab some of the best deals of the year and finish your holiday shopping early.
Black Friday is typically celebrated in stores and Cyber Monday deal, a few days later, happen online. And they’re both great opportunities to save. But which day should you shop? Each has its pros and cons, but there’s definitely something for everyone and a lot depends on what you want to buy. Here are some key points to help you decide.
Black Friday (November 25th)
Pros: If you’re looking for slashed prices on computers, electronics and home goods, this may be the best way to get them. Sometimes stores even offer special surprise deals that aren’t advertised otherwise. Granted, you’ll have to wake up at the crack of dawn to get the cream of the crop, but walking out with the flat screen you’ve had your eye on at half price may be totally worth it. Being in store also lets you scout items in person before you buy, which is especially helpful with clothes, housewares, and some electronics. Plus, the thrill of being in-store with other deal-hunting shoppers undeniably kicks off the holiday season with an exciting (even if a bit stressful) bang. Plus, no shipping fees.
Cons: Besides the obvious downside of waking up super early (we’re talking 4 a.m., people) Black Friday in-store deals often come in limited quantities – meaning you could get there to find your top wish list items have already sold out. Being in the heat of the shopping rush also makes you more likely to buy things you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise just because they’re physically in front of you and on sale. (If you’ve ever been to a mall on Black Friday, you know the “I need to get it before someone else does!” panic is real.)
Cyber Monday (November 28th)
Pros: It goes without saying that shopping from home in your pajamas sounds mighty appealing, especially after a busy Thanksgiving. There are no crowds, you don’t have to get up especially early, and you can do all of the price comparisons by clicking between tabs instead of running between stores, which saves a ton of time and stress. With less physical distractions, you are also more likely to make thoughtful decisions as you shop: Target the specific items on your list, click to checkout immediately, and be done.
Cons: The doorbuster deals you often find in store on Black Friday aren’t always available online. Cyber Monday sales also tend to be site-wide rather than product specific, so if you have particular items in mind, you may want to set up sale alerts now. Lastly, you won’t have the instant gratification of finishing your day with a carload of presents – you’ll have to pay for shipping, wait for items to arrive, and pray that everything looks as good in-person as it did online. And there’s always the possibility that the items in your virtual cart will sell out before you even make it through checkout – a scenario that wouldn’t happen if you’re physically in a store and have your paws on the goods.
Tech that helps
Deal alerts: Covvet is a great browser plug-in you can use while you’re browsing for products online— bookmark things you like at many top retailers (Bloomingdales, Saks, Amazon, Target, and many more), and Covvet will alert you when they go on sale.
Getting the best deal? Retailers often hike up prices to make it look like you’re getting a good holiday deal. CamelCamelCamel might have a ridiculous name, but they’re my watchdog of choice. Just enter the name of the product you’re contemplating, it CCC will show you it’s price history.
Price comparisons and deal hunting: BuyVia and RetailMeNot are my two favorite apps for all-year price comparisons and coupons, but this time of year they’re essential tools. See what deals are happening near you, keep coupons handy, and shop online too.
Whichever shopping path you choose, it’s super important to make a plan ahead of time – it’ll save you both time and money. You may also want to heed these budgeting tips from USA Today’s Hadley Malcolm, so you don’t accidentally break your bank account during the holiday shopping rush.
- Decide how much you’re going to spend ahead of time, so you don’t make frivolous purchases. Hadley recommends that you don’t spend more than 1.5% of your annual income on holiday shopping and travel.
- Make a list that you can easily reference, even if you’re shopping online. Include who you’re shopping for as well as how much you’re going to spend on each present.
- Avoid store credit card deals, which often have hidden fees. Instead, consider opening a separate checking account just for holiday shopping, so you can easily track your spending.
Because the last thing you want to get for the holidays is a mountain of debt.
Looking for some great Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals? I’ll have some of my top pics on the site next week!