Lisa Lee Freeman
5 holiday-shopping hacks for snagging the best deals all season long
Ready or not, the holiday deals are coming! It can be crazy overwhelming—you’ve got to figure out not just what to buy friends and family, but also when and where to buy it. Should you jump in during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales—or even earlier? Or should you wait until December or even later as the markdowns on many items get even deeper? And should you do most of your shopping online or in stores? Here’s a 5-step plan to max out your savings this holiday season.
Get your savings cockpit ready! There are a ton of tools that can help automate your savings. Using Just one or two can save you hundreds of dollars. A few of my favorites include the browser apps like Piggy and Honey (download them on your computer and cash-back deals and coupons will automatically pop up while you’re shopping; Honey will also alert you when prices drop on selected items on Amazon and other sites); cash-back websites like eBates, TopCashBack, and BeFrugal; and mobile apps like Retailmenot, CouponSherpa, and Coupons.com (if you haven't already downloaded these three apps onto your smart phone, do it now!)
Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday—at least for now!—it's Black November. One way to keep up on all the deals is by downloading flyer apps like Flipp, Retale, and Shopular. Check them every week for doorbusters. Also, check the websites of your favorite retailers. Many have already started advertising early Black Friday deals, including eBay, Amazon, and Walmart.
Plan to pull the trigger on Thanksgiving Day. It’s tough to beat Black Friday, especially for deals on electronics. But many of the best markdowns will happen on Thanksgiving day—and if previous years are any indication, some will be sold out by Black Friday. So don't loll around on Turkey Day! Get clicking. Although many doorbusters are in-store only, more and more of them are now available online. You’ll find big markdowns on laptops, smart phones, wireless speakers, Amazon and Google devices, and other tech accessories. Items that rarely go on sale, such as Sonos speakers and iPhones and iPads, will be discounted. Now is also the time to snap up hot gifts like Hatchimals and Shopkins before they’re gone.
Shop on Free Shipping Day for clothing, toys, and other gifts. After Black Friday, the next big push is Free Shipping Day, which falls on Friday, December 15. That’s a great day to finish your shopping. Hundreds of stores will be offering free shipping with no minimums and a guarantee to get the packages delivered in time for Christmas. But it’s also a great time to shop because many of those stores are offering huge markdowns, especially on items like clothing and toys. Go to freeshippingday.com for details.
Wait until AFTER the holidays to buy goodies for yourself. If you tend to shop for yourself while you're holiday gift shopping, try to hold back! Designer clothing, high-end TVs and computers, furniture, sheets, towels, and other home goods will be cheaper after the holidays. Post-holiday clearance sales are always the best time to buy winter apparel such as coats and sweaters. And you’ll find deals on the best TVs in January thanks to the Consumer Electronics Show. Retailers will be putting TVs on sale after CES so they can make room for the latest and greatest models. Also, traditional January white sales are still going strong and the biggest furniture sales tend to happen in February and March, when new models start hitting showrooms.
One FINAL tip: Don’t trust sale prices! Whether you’re shopping at a department store or online at Amazon, avoid doorbuster dumbness! Always compare prices! It’s easy to get carried away by flash-sale deals that get your blood pumping with huge discounts and limited-time offers. It can also be tough to control your bargain instincts when you’re surrounded by 50% off signs in your favorite stores. Be especially careful if you’re voice shopping with an Amazon Echo or Google device. Shouting for Alexa to buy something is convenient, but it can cost you! An easy way to check prices is to download the ShopSavvy app or just do a Google search.