10 Shopping Tricks to Help You Capitalize on Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals

Christmas Eve used to be the shopping day filled with the most delicious drama. Who knew if any of the year’s must-have gifts would still be available? What items would already be marked down to prices so low, you just couldn’t resist? And would the mall close before you got that one last gift?

These days, of course, Thanksgiving weekend gets all the hype.

Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday have its pros (big-time bargains and the thrill of the hunt) and cons (long lines, sore losers, and crashing websites). So, it pays to be a happy hybrid shopper, making the most of every possible buy. As with all things that involve your money, it’s smart to have a plan. Here are 10 tips that can help you capitalize on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

1. Make a List

Know who you’re buying for, what they like, and gather up gift ideas before you hit the stores or go online to shop. It will help keep you on task as retailers wave trendy items in front of you at “low holiday prices,” and you might just stick to your budget. Yes, there’s room for creativity if you’re good at that sort of thing. But a purchase is only a bargain if the recipient keeps it.

2. Be Skeptical About Doorbuster Deals

Do your research and check out prices before any retail event, whether it’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day, Christmas in July or any of the many sales linked to a holiday (some of which now last for weeks).

At the free site camelcamelcamel , you can track the history of Amazon prices (always a good gauge) and get alerts when prices drop. And you can read product reviews on most store websites, Amazon, Consumer Reports , or sites like Google Shopping .

3. Keep an Eye Out for “Leaked” Ads

It’s fun to think you stumbled onto some super-secret sale info that few other shoppers have, but that’s usually not the case. Most promotions are released early by retailers who want you to get excited about their offers, not intrepid bloggers or some mole in the ad department.

Merchants may drop information about their best Black Friday deals into newsletters or through social media, though, so it’s wise to follow your favorite stores and brands. Black Friday posts ad scans as soon as they’re available. And check out sites and apps like Slickdeals and DealsPlus , where you’ll find user comments about the worthiness of a specific offer.

4. Don’t Ignore Added Costs

Getting Cyber Monday deals is a beautiful thing, but the bargains start losing value if you have to add shipping costs or other fees. In the 2018 Deloitte holiday retail survey , free shipping made the top five list of perks online shoppers said they wanted to see, and many retailers have waived these costs during the holiday season.

If you do have to pay for shipping, it probably makes sense to send the gift directly to the recipient. You’ll avoid paying to mail it again from your home or for the cost of bringing an extra suitcase along for gifts if you’re traveling.

5. Prioritize Retailers with Reliable Delivery

When you place an item in your online shopping cart, make a point of verifying when, exactly, it will ship and what day you can expect delivery—then track it. Some stores offer the option to buy online and pick up purchases in the store. This saves you on shipping costs, but that doesn’t guarantee an earlier delivery.

6. Use Coupons and Promo Codes

Just because you’re getting a good deal doesn’t mean you can’t make it even better by using a brand or retailer’s coupons and/or promo codes. Some vendors send them out in e-newsletters or emails, but you also can find them on numerous websites, such as Retail Me Not and Savings .

For some people, time is money, and finding a promo code that’s still active and actually works is just too labor-intensive. But if you’re up for the hunt, it can be worthwhile. Or you can let an app like Cently by Coupon Follow (also known as Coupons at Checkout) do the work for you. You can sign up for free and it will look for, test and apply the appropriate coupon for you at an online store.

7. Use Your Credit Cards to Enhance the Deal

If you have a store card that offers a discount, now is the time to put it to work. Just be sure you pay off the purchase before the cost of interest outweighs the upfront savings. This is also a great opportunity to build up points on a rewards card.

Rewards cards that offer bonus points for purchases in revolving categories often are geared toward holiday spending in November and December. And you might be able to use those points to save on purchases next year.

8. Create a Folder for Emailed Receipts and Order Confirmations

This won’t save you any money on the front-end, but it might protect you if you need to make some returns after the holidays. You may even want to start a physical folder for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday receipts.

9. Don’t Stick to Retail Sites Only

Think outside the box when it comes to holiday gifting. Travel booking sites, resorts, and cruise lines also get into the fray on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While you’re online shopping, check your favorite sites to plan next year’s vacation or surprise someone with an adventure.

10. Look for All-Store Discounts Instead of Just Doorbusters

While Black Friday is all about the “get”—specific items, usually loss leaders, that draw you into a store—on Cyber Monday, retailers often offer site wide discounts. This gives you more flexibility as a shopper.

Saving for the Holidays

Of course, saving for the holidays is just as important financially as saving at the holidays. The average American consumer spent $572 on holiday gifts in 2018. If that isn’t close to what you’ve set aside in your change jar, you may want to rethink how you’re spending and saving your money.

You can use your SoFi Checking and Savings debit card to make purchases or to get cash at any ATM that accepts Mastercard® and we’ll reimburse you for the fees. Think of it as an advance gift to yourself—one that could lower your holiday stress.

See How SoFi Checking and Savings can fit into your financial life.

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