November is upon us. Along with pumpkin-spice everything, we can also expect some pretty stellar savings holidays that are coming up very soon.
Yes, it’s that time of year again – Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner. Let’s talk about how to save, plan, and score all the holiday deals you want this Fall.
How to prepare
For starters, it’s important to start your preparations for Black Friday 2023 now. This means saving whatever money you can and conserving that cash until the holiday weekend hits.
Take an inventory of the sorts of items you want to score the most. Make a list, organized by which items take priority, and use that list as you scope out deals.
Start signing up for email updates from your favorite retailers now, if you haven’t already. Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads will start releasing soon. Doorbusters and top deals will be announced well in advance, so keep your eyes peeled. If you see a particularly enticing deal for one of your “priority” list items, keep a close eye on it leading up to the holiday.
It’s important to remember not to only prioritize “big” doorbuster items. Make sure to include some smaller items (kitchen appliances, movies, etc.) as well, so you have some variety on your list. If your list is full of doorbusters, you probably won’t score all of them. Don’t just focus on big items, like TVs or game consoles. Check the rest of your home to see if your toaster or printer needs to be replaced.
Create a list of browser bookmarks for your best deals, especially if you intend to shop during Cyber Monday. Note if the deals are doorbusters, exclusive to online or in-store, and if the price changes.
Don’t forget that this is a prime time to shop for holiday gifts and items you need, like trees or lights. If you need to buy new holiday decor, try to take advantage of Black
Friday or Cyber Monday deals. Decorations will only become more expensive in the future, so this is your best chance to find affordable items.
As you search and create your list, make sure to keep track of which items are holiday gifts. Set these as high priority items – we all have to get gifts for the holidays, so we might as well save what we can on them!
Know where you want to go
It’s especially important to plan out where you’re shopping well in advance. Do you plan on going in person at midnight? If so, make a detailed plan of which stores you’ll go to and when. If you don’t intend on going at midnight, but during the day on Friday, still plan ahead, so you can be time efficient. It’s also very helpful to know in advance what deals you’re looking for (hence the preparation I talked about earlier).
If you plan to shop online, keep that list of browser bookmarks handy and keep yourself informed on when Cyber Monday deals will go live on retailer websites.
Of note, many retailers have already communicated that for 2023, they will not be open on Thanksgiving. Please double check your favorite store’s operating dates and times ahead of time and plan accordingly!
Know store policies on returns and price matching
It’s extremely important to know retailers’ policies on returns and price matching before you go to the store. You’ll want to know what the return window is for items purchased during savings events and which (if any) items can’t be returned or exchanged.
The same goes for price matching. If you spot a specific item that you know is being offered for less at a competing retailer, it’s good to know if the store you’re shopping at will price match. With some stores, they have very specific parameters around price matching during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, so it’s good to know this information beforehand.
Online or in-store?
Many consumers wonder whether just choosing one form of shopping – online or in-store – is better. The answer isn’t clear-cut. The truth is, one form of shopping isn’t “better” than the other in terms of scoring deals. It’s all about how you shop and what sorts of perks matter more to you.
For example, online shopping is far more convenient and less tiring or cumbersome than going to shop during these holidays in person. However, online shopping has sometimes been historically buggy during peak shopping times – and a purchase isn’t guaranteed just because the item is “in your cart”.
This goes especially for limited online doorbusters that sell out very quickly. If you’re a couple seconds behind on checking out, or your internet connection becomes spotty, you could lose your chance at buying an item you were gunning for. Limited inventory on ‘door buster’ deals is often the culprit to items not making it to you.
Shopping in person can offer a bit more certainty (once an item is in your cart, generally it’s yours to buy until you put it back or check out), but only when you’ve actually found the item and grabbed one. If you get to the store too late, chances are the doorbusters are gone (and you still went all the way to the store.)
In short, I believe the best method is to shop both online and in person, to maximize the savings opportunities you will come across.
Josh Elledge is a syndicated newspaper columnist with over 12 years of experience covering consumer advocacy. His work spotlights money-saving skills, strategic shopping and financial life hacks.
First appeared on www.mlive.com