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Shopping Tips for Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Make sure to stick to a holiday budget when shopping online

Last year’s holiday season took both retailers and shoppers for a wild ride. Not only did the bevy of supply chain issues and shipping delays affect shopping habits, but a little thing called COVID-19 drastically changed the holiday landscape. As for this season’s holidays? Well, it looks to be shaping up for an even wilder ride because the pandemic isn’t over, and stores will have the added burden of labor shortages.

The end of the year definitely isn’t easy on your household budget with all of the added holiday spending piled. In fact, it’s fairly common for credit card debt to get out of hand. And that overspending results in what we like to call a Holiday Debt Hangover.

Luckily, there are ways to counteract this stress-inducing nightmare. We recommend developing a carefully crafted holiday spending plan and incorporating it into your budget. Once you have your spending plan set, you can take advantage of deals retailers are already offering ahead of Thanksgiving weekend.

But be wary, sometimes the onslaught of appetizing deals can hurt consumer wallets more than they intend to save them. So, if you end up with more debt than you can manage by the holiday’s end, give us a call at (866) 475-5233 to set up a free, confidential debt analysis with a certified credit counselor.

1. Don’t pick the first deal that comes your way

The biggest mistake shoppers make with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals is assuming that those two days are going to deliver the most phenomenal deals. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

Otherwise, retailers often use some clever tricks to convince you that you’re getting the deal of a lifetime even when you’re not. Here are a few examples:

  • They mark up prices on a hot-selling item weeks before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so that when they mark them down as “sales” you’re really end up paying the original price before the pre-Black Friday markup.
  • Sometimes retailers will go so far as to mark back down the same sale price they advertised last year for an item, regardless of how much the price of said item may have dropped throughout the year.

Since retailers want to take advantage of tempting consumers into buying, they set up deals a week prior to the holiday shopping season. Last year, retailers did just that by offering Black Friday doorbusters up to one week prior to Thanksgiving. So, there would be very little incentive to shop on such hectic days rather than going in earlier and getting the same deals without fighting off a hoard of shoppers.

2. Start comparing prices early

With Step 1 in mind, we recommend going online and beginning your comparison shopping for the items on your holiday shopping list early:

  1. Start by making a list of everything from decorations to table settings. You want to narrow it down to the closest dime. The better your idea of how much you need to spend the higher your chances of avoiding overspending.
  2. Go online and search for each product you need to buy. Then compare prices from the various retailers who are offering said product.
  3. Write down the best prices, where you can buy the goods, and which retailer is offering the lowest price because you may be able to get price matching in-stores. Also, note the better online deals versus the cheaper in-store deals.
  4. In most cases, a search engine, such as Google, will offer free price comparisons from different retailers who have that product in stock.
  5. Once Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals start popping up, begin comparing their prices to the prices you’ve found to see where the best deals really are.
  6. Keep an eye out for the extreme deals early and take advantage of them. This will also help reduce the number of transactions you need to make on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And it can help you avoid debt.
  7. Finally, limit Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping to products and stores that actually offer the best deals.

3. Follow these tips to save big on Black Friday

Once you know exactly which items on your list you need to buy on Black Friday and where, you can start to make your Black Friday plan of attack.

  1. Get copies of all of the deals you’ll be using on Black Friday and print them out or save them to your smartphone. You can even keep multiple tabs open on your smartphone’s browser for references.
  2. Note the stores AND when those retailers open their doors for Black Friday shopping. For example, Target is kicking things off on Sunday, November 21 with their online sale through Saturday, November 27. On Black Friday, their store hours will vary based on location. So, make sure you look up your local Target’s store hours.
  3. Plan ahead. Map out the route that lets you start with buying the item most likely to sell out first. That way you can ensure you don’t miss out on your must-haves. And make sure your shopping route does not require you drive back and forth all over the place to find the best deals.
  4. Pay attention to the stores that are offering exclusives to their paying members. For example, Walmart is offering its paying Walmart+ members early access to online Black Friday events four hours earlier than the scheduled start times throughout November.
  5. Keep your receipts in case retailers offer after-holiday price matching. This is where the retailer will refund the difference of an item purchased before the holidays if the price drops lower after the holidays are over.

4. Take these steps to maximize Cyber Monday savings

In the past few years, Cyber Monday has become increasingly more popular. Since the pandemic, shopping online has increased, so it’s a no-brainer that consumers want to avoid crowds and shop from the comfort of their couch or bed. So, avoid the hassle of heading out to buy something that’s already sold out and look for it online instead.

Here are a few steps you can take to maximize your savings on Cyber Monday:

  1. Ahead of Cyber Monday, signup for email alerts and/or follow your favorite retailers on social networks. That way you can stay ahead of the curve and will often get exclusive offers not available to the public yet.
  2. Look for online exclusive offers. For example, Amazon is offering 30% off 4k TVs, Amazon Echo Dots, and Apple AirPods on Cyber Monday.
  3. Make sure online offers aren’t beat by in-store offers. Even on email promotions, some retailers offer bigger deals for in-store purchases rather than ordering online.
  4. Write down or save coupon codes in the notes app on your smartphone – certain offers (especially those you get from the last step) may not be displayed on the coupon code list on the website. You can also use an app like Honey to save coupons on your phone, or use their desktop browser extension, which will search for coupon codes on any site where you shop.
  5. If you have multiple offers from a single store, make sure they can stack. Some stores only let you apply one coupon code per order or per product. Otherwise, make sure to use offers that maximize your savings.
  6. Always opt for free shipping if it’s available – the chance of ground shipping taking too long if you order on Cyber Monday is really low unless an item goes on backorder.
  7. You can also use rebate apps on your smartphone or as browser extensions that allow you to earn cash back. Browser extensions like Rakuten and iBotta will search for rebates as you shop, and you can activate them before you checkout. Rebates stack with coupons, meaning you can double your savings on many purchases.
  8. If you are purchasing heavy items like refrigerators or washer/dryers, you may be better off buying it in store if they offer free home delivery, since the weight of the product may make shipping expensive. So, make sure the price discount isn’t completely offset by shipping charges.

5. Minimize credit card debt and interest charges

Just like shipping costs on a heavy item can offset a great deal when you’re shopping online, interest charges can do the same thing to those deals if you put purchases on a credit card.

Let’s say you spend $300 between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all of the transactions are put on one credit card with an average 15% APR. If it takes you 6 months to pay off that balance by making $60 payments every month, then you add $14.26 in interest charges. If you only made minimum payments, it would take 24 months to pay off and add $59.36 in interest charges. Those added finance charges could easily eat up the savings from the sale.

  • On Black Friday, your best option is to pay in cash – it avoids adding debt to your credit card balances and helps protect your debit accounts from potential data breaches.
  • For Cyber Monday, an online payment service like PayPal is the best option – you don’t have to enter sensitive account information and there aren’t interest charges since you can only spend the money you have saved in the account.

If you are finding it difficult paying off holiday credit card debt, contact Consolidated Credit to speak with certified credit counselor to find the best way to get out of debt.