Before you know it, my friends, the holiday season will be upon us and the deals and savings will abound. With Black Friday falling on November 29 this year, the Black Friday ads are going to release later than usual. While that gives you a breather in October – I mean seriously, who hasn’t seen the Christmas decorations and trees out already with the Halloween stuff? – before you know it the sales will be bounced out.
I’ve learned a few things over the years on how to grab the best deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, so I’m sharing those with you early so you can start preparing.
Make a List
You need to determine who you will be buying for this holiday season and make a list. You can have a written list or make a separate group in your favorite reminder app on your phone or computer. I personally keep a shopping list for family members in my Microsoft To-Do app. This way, when one of the kids mentions in passing that they want this or that, I make a quick note in the app under their name so when holiday time rolls around, I have what they wanted and I don’t have to go begging for a list!
Sign up for Emails
Chances are you are already on the mailing list for your favorite stores. If you aren’t now is the time to get on their mailing list to receive their Black Friday sales notices. If there is a favorite store that someone on your list frequents, sign up to receive their emails as well.
Here’s a hint – Best Buy and Walmart have really amped up their online shopping experience since last year. As a result, we predict some huge savings IN-STORE during the holiday season.
Check Store Prices against Online Prices
Nothing irks me more than when I see a product online that says it is available for $34.99 and then when you get to the store to purchase it, the sales price is $54.99. This recently happened when we went to JC Penney to get my son a specific Nike hoodie that he wanted. The associate refused to price match the item for us though which I later found out is against JC Penney’s store policy. We will be dealing with that – $20 is $20 after all.
In addition, check for a better price at Amazon or the store’s competition. Most stores will price match the lower price if found somewhere else. For instance, I used my favorite app to find a Dash mini waffle maker at a cheaper price than my local Target offered, and they matched the price.
Having a coupon checking, price match app on your phone is almost imperative in this age of retail and online shopping. Quite a few apps will also give you cashback bonuses or credits that you can redeem for a gift card to a store of your choice. Speaking of gift cards …
Shop Using Discount Gift Cards
All of those gift cards you received last year for the holidays still sitting in your drawer, going to waste? Use them for your shopping trip this year! Most gift cards do not expire. You can also purchase discounted gift cards (Google it) and get some great discounts – such as a $160 gift card for just $95.
Prioritize Your Shopping List
I say it hundreds of times a day – have a game plan! Prioritize your shopping list by store and then by the item you are looking for. If you want one of the Top 10 gift items of the year, you need to make it a priority to get to that department first to get the item when it’s in stock. Which brings us to our next point …
Divide & Conquer – Shop with a Friend
Of course, everyone is going to want to have their Black Friday sale be the first of the season. So what happens when Walmart has 5 things you want and Best Buy has 5 things you want, and the stores are across town from each other and doors open at the same time? Divide and conquer and shop with a friend! While you are at one store, have your friend hit the other store to grab what you want and you can reciprocate and pick up whatever they have on their list for them at your store!
Have a Backup Plan
Something I have always done with my kids is, in addition to getting the list of items they want the absolute most, I also ask them what are some other things that they would like if we cannot afford something that they have asked for or we cannot find one in stock. The same holds true for anyone you are buying for – always have a backup gift in mind if you cannot find the one item you are searching for.
Leave the Kids at Home
This should go without saying, honestly. When you are dealing with the crush of people during a Black Friday sale, trying to grab everything on your list, the last thing you need to worry about is what happened to little Tommy and where did he disappear to? Kids are enthralled with all the bright colors in stores and will take every opportunity to wander off. Don’t have the holiday season start with a lost or abducted child – leave them at home with a responsible sibling or adult. It will save your sanity!
Price Check in the Store
If you are looking for a great deal, scanning the barcode of a product in-store is the best way to get one. You can use the Amazon app to check prices right from your phone and, if you find a better price, you can get the store to price match it. Most store apps now have a barcode scanner so if you have several store apps on your phone – you can check the competition as well.
Plan Your Shopping Trip
Have your list in hand and the stores you want to visit, and what times they are having their best Black Friday deals available in-store. Plan your trip accordingly. If you are going with several friends, make a night of it (or day – depending on when you head out) and schedule breaks in between to grab some Starbucks to keep up your energy.
Shop on Wednesday
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Black Friday prices are always the best prices of the season. You can sometimes find prices are lower the week before Black Friday or even the Wednesday before. Keep an eye on your top must-have items and check in-store and online for the best deals. Again, use a price comparison site to help you narrow down the selections.
Score Early Deals
Many retailers want to get the jump on their competition and will put items on sale a week or two BEFORE Black Friday. If you are looking for something that is in high demand – consider setting up a Deal Alert on slickdeals.net. I have one set up for an air fryer.
I will receive an email whenever there is a deal in any of the categories that I requested. You can also check your emails from your favorite store regularly. Subscribers usually receive word about upcoming sales before they are announced to the public.
Slickdeals.net also has a fantastic Black Friday post you should check out that shows when stores were open in 2018 for Black Friday and when their ads came out, it will help you plan your shopping strategy this year!
Shop for Other Events
Just because we are talking about shopping for the holidays and gift lists, that does not mean that you cannot score some great savings for other events throughout the year. If you know a friend is getting married next year, keep an eye open for something newlyweds will need. Have a child who attends birthday parties? Stock up on some gift items for both boys and girls. See a beautiful Thanksgiving service set on sale? Buy it to use for next year!
If Black Friday crowds and traffic are just not your cup of tea, don’t fret! You can still grab some great deals online as well. You just won’t be able to grab those “doorbuster” items that in-store shoppers will have available to them.
Get Out Early
While I personally wish that all stores would give their employees time to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families and not have to worry about rushing in to work right after Thanksgiving dinner – that just is not always the case. If your favorite store at the top of your list is opening up at 11:00 p.m. on Thursday to kick off their Black Friday sale, then, by all means, plan accordingly to grab the best deals.
Some stores will offer certain products at certain times throughout the day to keep you in the store shopping all day. If you see an item that you want at a crazy price, be sure to be at the store during the time allotted to get it. If they are out for whatever reason, ask for a raincheck.
Follow Your Budget & Use Cash or Debit Card
While credit cards are great in an emergency, I do not recommend using them for shopping. It is too easy to get carried away and overspend. Something I have always told my kids when they do get a credit card is to never buy more than you can pay off at the end of the month. Make sure you have a budget for your holiday shopping and stick to it. Either use cash for your purchases, or set aside a certain amount in your account for the shopping day and use debit to keep you within your budget.
We hope these tips help you organize your game plan for the holiday shopping season and that with it, you are able to get all the great deals you are looking for! Early shopping means you finish early, and you have time to sit back and enjoy the season with family and friends!
Don’t forget to check out our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide as well and our Gift Guide Central page with tons of great deals available 24/7 for our readers.