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· budget, credit, holiday, savings

Smart and Safe Buying On Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are well-known names for pre-December store sales, and they have become annual traditions for millions of shoppers trying to save money, either by buying merchandise for themselves or for holiday gifts for others. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday is the first Monday after that holiday. While Black Friday has sales for goods of almost all types, Cyber Monday is supposed to focus on computers, cell phones, televisions, and other electronics. Both days generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales for retailers, while offering what may be significant discounts to consumers who have waited a year for these shopping days. For some retailers, their special prices may start before Thanksgiving and run through December, so great holiday deals aren’t exclusive to the last Friday and Monday in November.

It's early in the month, and there's still time to have a strategy and plan for getting the right goods at the right price during this month’s sale days, and here are some ideas for making the most of your shopping dollars.

To save more money, you should have a shopping budget

Don't let your holiday spending grow too far, too fast. Set a limit on what you intend to spend this year for yourself and for others. Don't make the budget rigid; you should have some flexibility to take advantage of unexpected and worthwhile buying opportunities, but promise to stay generally within your original spending limit. Keep in mind that spending on needs should come before spending on what you want.

Write down your holiday shopping list before Black Friday and Cyber Monday and research pre-sale prices now

Save time later by creating a comprehensive shopping list ahead of the big holiday sales, so you know exactly what you are shopping for. Go ahead and check current prices for those items at different retailers now and keep track of those prices; that way you know what the price change is for Black Friday or Cyber Monday and whether the discount is a good deal. Make certain you know the exact model number of what you want, so you don’t end up buying something similar but with different features that you don't want.

If you want a specific item, check its price today at multiple stores. Add those items to a wish list or your online shopping cart (and then abandon the cart) so you can see how much the prices change between now and Cyber Monday. This helps reveal just how big a discount that sale price offers.

Monitor retailers for sales and special discounts, including coupons, clearance, and early Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals

Add Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale dates to your calendar so you're prepared when they become active. Sign up for retailer emails for early notice of future sales. Remember that retailers may get an early start on Black Friday and Cyber Monday by offering as good (or better) deals ahead of those days, so watch for these discounts.

Avoid waiting outside and in line for a physical store

Almost everything on sale in a physical store is likely to be online for the same sale price online—but not always. Unless the item is rare or the discount is only an in-store deal, avoid getting up early and waiting in line outside in late November weather; save yourself some time and effort by shopping online.

Maximize your savings by using your rewards points credit cards

You can increase your Black Friday and Cyber Monday savings more by using credit cards that have good rewards points programs. Rewards points usually can be used in a variety of ways, and you should accumulate them during your sale purchasing.

Patient is a virtue; be on the lookout for better deals after the big sales

As mentioned above, while Black Friday and Cyber Monday have lots of deals, retailers are also offering more good discounts later in December to separate themselves from the single-day, intense sale periods. Keep monitoring prices and you may find good deals or after the big sales.

Plan carefully, shop smart and save money

As discussed above, if you plan your buying strategically, it’s likely that you'll save more money. Always be cautious about being dazzled by a great deal for something you hadn’t planned to buy. Just because an item may be a good deal doesn't mean you should buy it; avoid buying things you don't need just because they're on sale.

Always be on the lookout for scams, and be cautious about sharing information online

More people online in a hurry means there are more opportunities for scammers to steal your money, your identity—or both. Whenever you can, shop from reputable, well-known retailers. If you are shopping at very specialized retailers that may not be widely known, check their reputation through rating organizations such as the Better Business Bureau®.

There have also been online reports of some retailers selling merchandise created specifically for Black Friday /Cyber Monday that isn't quite up to the level of quality as its standard offering, so carefully check model and serial numbers whenever possible.

Delta Community has more detailed advice on protecting yourself online in these posts:

Other tips for handling the holidays and spending