High tech holiday presents are always a big hit, but what they do to your wallet is often less so. So if you have your eye on a flat screen TV, tablet, laptop or anything else tap-or-clickable, you’re going to be after the best deal you can get, and Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals start looking reallllly good.
Easy tiger, you can’t just jump right into the shopping Olympics without doing some preparation and training. I’ve partnered with Slice, the personal shopping assistant app I have used for years, to bring you a few tips that will help you decide whether to stampede a store, or shop online, all while keeping your sanity (and wallet) intact.
Before you shop anywhere…
Get your Inbox in order. If you’re not already subscribed to your favorite retailer’s newsletter, it’s time to sign up. Then get ready for a cavalcade of alerts about holiday coupons and flash sales. Unroll.me can help you make sense of it all: Rolling all the coupons together into one helpful digest, and quickly unsubscribing from the ones you no longer want when the holiday is over.
Make your list and check it twice. Getting great holiday deals requires focus— it’s critical to make a list and be sure about what you’re looking for and how many you need. Moreover, prioritize the list by putting the most critical (read: expensive) items at the top. That way you’ll be sure to track the biggest price slashes and not get distracted by others.
Do your homework. Start hitting sites like BlackFriday.com, TGIBlackFriday.com, and CyberMonday.com to see what the upcoming deals will be. Lots of retailers are staggering their deals on different days and different times per day, so you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t start to chart it out— now when prices are at their lowest, you’ll be ready to pounce. Also, doing a price comparison early on will let you know whether the better deal will be happening in-store or online— these days, you might be able to save yourself a trip and holiday shop while enjoying some pumpkin pie by the fire.
If you’re heading to the stores on Black Friday…
Go equipped. A cross-body bag, some good running shoes, a supply of snacks, and water to stay hydrated. People, Black Friday is a competitive sport not for the faint of heart— go with the proper sustenance and equipment or you could end up trampled and empty-handed.
Go early, and be wary of Doorbusters. Know when the store you want to hit first opens it’s doors, and don’t be late. Doorbusters look tantalizing, but are often a mirage to anyone who isn’t among the first few to enter, as the inventory is so low (that’s how they getcha). So if you’re not at the front of the line, you could miss out. NOTE: Some stores offer a “rain check” for those who can’t find the inventory, and offer the same deal for a larger time period.
Know the layout. If you’re flooding into the store with hundreds of ravenous people, you better know what aisle you want to race to first. Do a preliminary store scout, or use an app like Aisle411 so you know your ideal route for the items you’re hunting for.
Be sure you’re getting the best deal. Download apps like ShopSavvy or RedLaser and use it to compare prices before you buy in-store. Make sure you can’t get a better deal somewhere else (or online). If you do see a better deal, sometimes stores will price match, so don’t be afraid to ask a sales associate to strike a deal before you start driving across town to the next retailer. Also, bon’t forget to bring any additional coupons with you— sometimes (but not always) they can be combined with a Black Friday deal to save you even more.
If you’re shopping online on Cyber Monday…
Plot your schedule. Some sales start as early as 12:01AM, andmost retailers stagger their sales throughout the day (to keep you coming back of course). So make sure you know what’s going on sale when, and set alerts on your phone so you’re ready to click “buy” at the right time.
Be ready to compare. Have an idea of what the regular price is beforehand, so you’re sure the deal is truly fabulous. Otherwise you could be looking at a hiked-up “regular price”, making the sale price deceiving.
Know the return policy and shipping costs. If a gift doesn’t work out and you need to return or exchange it, you don’t want to deal with any surprises. Know exactly how much it costs to ship, or ship back, anything you’re buying, and how quickly you’ll have to return it without penalty.
Shop safe. Make sure you see the “HTTPS” when you’re ready to type your credit card information (the “s” stands for “secure”) and don’t shop anywhere that doesn’t look secure— no deal is worth having your information hacked or stolen.
Keep track of it all. If you’re doing a lot of holiday shopping online, use an app like Slice to keep track of your packages, know when things are scheduled to arrive, and know when prices drop further, so you can try to get a better deal. It’s a sanity-saver when you’re shopping in bulk.
Phew! Best of luck getting fantastic deals this holiday season. Be sure to let me know if you have a triumphant discount story you’re particularly proud of.