A Guide to Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Written By:

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Guide

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Guide

Most people are familiar with Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when the holiday shopping season officially begins and stores offer big discounts to lure in customers. But Cyber Monday is a newer holiday of sorts. The Monday after Black Friday, web-based stores start the same process, offering steep discounts online instead of in the brick-and-mortar locations.

So now that you know about these two events, which should you take part in? Both? Neither? And how do you make the most of them?

Some people are turned off by the idea of Cyber Monday because they don’t like online shopping. If you’re someone who likes to check out what you’re buying in person, there’s no replacement for the real thing. However, if part of the reason you’re against it is shipping costs, think again! Most Cyber Monday deals offer free shipping or deep discounts, so it may not be an issue.

One area where Cyber Monday has a huge leg up is that you can do your shopping from the comfort of your own home. You can price-check with the click of a few buttons, you don’t have to contend with crowds, and you don’t have to get up super early.

[Check Your Credit: Don’t Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.

Also, Cyber Monday is a bit of a misnomer, since increasingly online stores are starting to make their sales weekend-long events or to even begin them on Black Friday. But of course, not all in-store deals are available online or vice versa, so do your research in advance to see what’s best for you.

Set a budget. If you’re someone who enjoys bargain-hunting, it can sometimes be easy to go overboard when everything seems like such a killer deal. Before you head out, decide on your budget for the event, and stick to it.

Plan ahead. One great way to ensure you stick to the budget but still get what you want is to do some investigation beforehand. You can keep all the sales ads that you get in the mail, or you can do a quick search online. There are dozens of sites collecting the ads for you, so it makes it easy to see what’s available at what price. Do your comparisons now to see where the best deals are and what stores you want to hit. Make a total of everything you plan to buy. Is it less than your budget? Good! Because it’s likely you’ll make an impulse purchase or two, so leave a little wiggle room.

Bring your ads. Many stores will price match their competitors. This can be a huge advantage since you may want items from several different stores but you’ll never have time to hit them all. So instead, bring the ad with you to the store that has the most items you want and see if the sales associate can cut you a deal.

Consider camping out. If there’s a “hot” item or an absolutely amazing deal, it is guaranteed to sell out – fast. Often when stores offer these types of specials, they purposely don’t stock very many since the goal is actually to get people in the store buying other things. So if you really want it, get there the night before and cozy up with other bargain hunters. If you make a friend or two in line, you may be able to help each other out once you get inside.

[Check Your Credit: Don't Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.

Shop early. Don’t want to camp out? No problem, but you should still head out early. Not just because there will be a greater selection, but also because many stores offer discounts to people who come in before 11 am. And why not take advantage of the additional savings?

Get receipts. If they’re for presents, get gift receipts. This will protect you in case you buy something that’s unwanted, but also in case you accidentally go over that budget you set or find a better deal on the same item later in the day.

Go with a sensible friend. It’s way easier to tackle the craziness that is Black Friday if you don’t go it alone. Plus, it’s more fun! But it’s also important to bring along someone who’s going to encourage your better instincts. Don’t bring someone along who will persuade you to overspend.

Bring only cash. A surefire way to stay within your budget is to take out exactly the amount you want to spend and leave your credit and debit cards at home. Just make sure you have enough money to pay for gas at the end of the day since you may be driving around to many places.

Search for online coupons. When you’re checking out on a website on Cyber Monday, you may notice a little box that asks if you have a coupon code and think, “Shucks! I wish I had one.” Well, it may be possible to find one in just a few seconds. Just do a search for the store name plus the word “coupon” to see what pops up. You may be surprised what additional savings you find. This is a good practice for any time of year, and you can also do it to search for additional in-store Black Friday deals.

Protect your identity. If you’re shopping online, there are additional precautions you can take to ensure the safety of your personal data and credit card information. Here are 10 tips from the Better Business Bureau that are worth checking out before you hit “Buy.”

[Check Your Credit: Don’t Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.

Remember not to get too stressed about finding the absolute lowest price available or missing out on a particular opportunity. It’s likely you’re still getting tons of good deals, so have fun!

Related articles: