The hype is on. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner. Retailers are anticipating a better reap of cash than last year. But is it really worth it? Can you really bag a deal or are the savings only an illusion? Are you joining the Black Friday crowds to save money or have fun?
Without careful planning and advance research, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can easily transport you from the black to the red—in your financial life that is. Let’s take a look at the reality of these two global shopping days.
Watch Out for the Love We Give Ourselves
Here’s a shocking opener: according to a Deloitte survey, roughly $433 USD of the $1,226 spent on holiday shopping went to presents. Where did the rest go? To ourselves! Yes, this is the truth—when we go holiday shopping for others, we get so giddy, we buy all the stuff we always wanted for ourselves. And then there are the parties, outings and holiday entertainment. Bust goes the budget.
The first step to staying in the black this holiday season: (1) limit the spending on yourself, or (2) put yourself into the budget. In other words, when you create your holiday budget, add your name to the list of names of gift recipients. Make a list of the personal items you want to purchase. Then ask, “Is this the best time of year?” “Can I wait until the prices are more favorable?” What about entertainment? Do you really need all these outings? Entertaining at home? How about pot-luck, rather than catering? And no alcohol, etc. Pare down your portion of the budget as much as possible. And try this: commit that all personal expenses will be paid for only in cash, not with the credit card.
The lure of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the hope of saving lots of money. However, every sale is not necessarily a “sale.” Some stores will advertise incredible sale prices, but the products are low-quality, cheap items that the store is really trying to dump before the end of the year. Don’t allow yourself to be guided by sales ads. Take the time now, in this week before Thanksgiving to investigate retailers who advertising sales on the products you want. If you are not a frequent shopper there, find out if the place is reputable. Of what quality are their products? Do an advance trip. Go online and read reviews on the advertised products. Compare prices. Then create your Black Friday shopping map.
Is Black Friday the Best Time to Buy this Stuff?
Every product has its season—those times of the year when you will find real savings because stores want to move old inventory out, or because demand has dropped off. For instance, later in the winter is the best time to purchase winter clothing and exercise equipment. You may see a lot of sales ads for toys, but actually, the best time is the week before Christmas. Same goes for televisions—ignore all those ads. The prime time to reap good savings on the purchase of a new, high-quality television is during the days after Christmas up until Super Bowl Sunday. On the other hand, if you just want a cheap TV for your apartment or dorm room, then squeezing into the crowds at BestBuy is a good move. Skip the gift cards, you will find much better prices in December.
Shopping Early does not Mean Camping out at the Store
For many consumers, Black Friday has become a social experience. As long as you go with eyes open, prepared with your list and budget, you can indeed find savings on this day. However, you can do an even better job of saving money by shopping early—before Thanksgiving! No need to camp out all night to be the first to rush in once the doors open. The Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Black Friday can be great days for scoring some huge deals on the product you want.
More and more Americans, in fact, consumers all over the globe, are taking advantage of the online deals that can be captured on Cyber Monday. In fact, Cyber Monday reaped $3.4 billion in sales, breaking a record. The reasons are obvious. You can grab your favorite hot drink, put your feet up, and relax in your favorite chair or even on the bed and shop away. No parking is required.
Cyber Monday sales are the real thing—not coupons or cash-back deals. The sale window is short, typically 24 hours, unlike Black Friday which can extend for a few days after the big day. Cyber Monday can be just as exciting as Black Friday, without all the hassle. Online retailers update their sales offerings in real time, so if you keep your digital device by your side, you can be the first to grab a great deal as soon as it pops up.
What to Buy on Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday is great for tech products, kitchen appliances, certain apparel, shoes, and beauty products. It’s also the day to slay the best prices on computers, digital devices, and peripherals. Techradar.com has a great list of some of the hot electronics, digital and smartphone deals to look out for this Cyber Monday. And, if travel is in your holiday plans, take advantage of Cyber Monday to book your tickets and hotel room.