So you’ve decided you’re going to brave the cold and the crowds and go Black Friday shopping. How do you look for deals? Most of the Black Friday ads for brick and mortar stores are out on the store’s websites right now. You’ll probably also get a bunch of ads in the mail in the next few days if you haven’t already. After you’ve made your holiday budget and made a list of things you want to get for each person (see part 3 of our Black Friday guide if you need help), you can start to look through ads to see what deals are available. Begin by looking at ads from your favorite stores. My favorite stores to go to on Black Friday are Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s because they have a large selection of items and I can usually pick up gifts for multiple people at each store. There are a lot of Black Friday phone apps that can help you consolidate ads in one place and many of them have a search function so that you can search for a particular item and find what store is advertising the best price. Here’s a list of apps recommended by Cheapism: http://www.cheapism.com/blog/3239/black-friday-apps
How do you know if the advertised price is a good deal or not? Use one of the aforementioned apps or a Black Friday website to compare prices. Keep in mind that you have to stick to your budget. If it is out of your budget range, you simply cannot afford it, no matter if it is a great deal or not. It is also helpful to start in early November to see what the regular prices of items are for comparison purposes. Sometimes the “sales” are not much less than the regular price, yet customers get caught up in the excitement of Black Friday and impulse buy the item anyway. Also remember that you may be able to get the item cheaper online on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Check out part 2 of our Black Friday series for more info on online shopping. Here’s a great infographic that shows when some of the most popular items are most likely to be offered at the best price: http://www.shefinds.com/2014/what-to-buy-on-black-friday-and-every-other-sale-day-of-the-season/
Watch out for prices that are only contingent upon mail-in rebates. If you are following the cash budgeting system we suggested in the last blog, make sure you are looking at the fine print! You don’t want to get to the register and find out something is $20 more than you expected because that great price in the ad is only after a mail-in rebate. Many people will forget to send in their rebates, which is one of the reasons companies like to offer rebates. Consumers will pay the higher price now, thinking about that great after-rebate price, and then forget to send in the documents to get their rebate money. And remember, you also have to pay for the stamps and envelopes you need to send in those rebates. You also want to make sure that you read all of the rebate details and do everything correctly. I recently had a rebate rejected because I forgot to circle the price of the item on the receipt! You don’t want to lose $20, $30, or more because of a little mistake. If you think you will forget to send in rebates, only buy items without rebates. Here are some more rebate tips and tricks on Cheapism’s blog: http://www.cheapism.com/blog/3248/black-friday-rebates
Have fun looking through the ads and make sure to stay organized. Here’s one more infographic with even more Black Friday & Cyber Monday tips and tricks: http://www.valpak.com/media/how-to-shop-on-black-friday-and-cyber-monday.jsp Tomorrow’s Black Friday part 5 blog will have tips on how to prepare for Black Friday and how to make a game plan for your shopping adventure.