The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Black Friday and Cyber Monday

I have to admit when it comes to shopping, I hate fighting the crowds. It’s one of the top reasons I choose to stay home on Black Friday. For the last couple of years, I’ve done about 50% of my holiday shopping online, and this year, I think almost all my shopping’s going to be done via cyberspace.
If you’re brave enough to face the crowd, you might want to check out these two sites before you head out the door

Tips for Shopping

Gas Prices
Gas prices might be on their way down, but you still want to save money. My advice, shop with friends or family and carpool. And try and get all your shopping done in just one trip to the mall.

Shop for Practicality, but still have some fun
With money being an issue for just about everyone this year; it’s not the time to buy gifts that don’t have some purpose. Yes, the holidays are about fun, but think about what people really need. Maybe you have a family member who’s out of work and needs a new shirt and tie for a job interview, etc. And think about something that a friend or family member isn’t buying for themselves because they’re watching the pennies. Maybe buy them a gift certificate to rent some movies or even a gift card to their favorite bakery.

Keep Those Receipts
I think stores are going to be a lot more flexible about exchanges and refunds this year, but keep receipts and tags so you can get a full refund if you need to take something back. Sales mean items get deeply discounted and if you don’t have a receipt, you’re likely to end with the sale price, which this year could be substantial. Don’t get shortchanged. At the beginning of the holiday season I take a manila envelope and write the words ‘holiday gift receipts’ on it and place all the tags and receipts inside. Once everyone’s happy with their gifts, I toss it.

Dress Sensibly
There’s one thing about getting older and that’s getting wiser about how you dress to go shopping. I wear layers of clothing because I know the malls get to tropical temperatures and running shoes so my feet don’t give out before my spirit does. And I always some snacks with me. By the time we decide to head to a restaurant, the lines are out the door and everyone starts to get cranky.

Cyber Monday
If you can’t face Black Friday or couldn’t find what you’re looking for, there’s always Cyber Monday. Here are some sites to check out before you browse. Lots of great information on both these sites that should help you save some pennies.

Know What You Want
This year I made a list of everything I was looking for and spent a few hours researching the best deals. Books are always on my list and one site I really do like is Amazon. If you spend $25, shipping is free. I’ve found they have the lowest prices and the service is quick too.

The only thing I hate about shopping online is the shipping fees. Make a note of just how much you’re paying because if you visit three or four sites, shipping fees can quickly add up. Before you know it, you’ve spend $20 or more. And that’s money that you could have used to buy another gift. Try and shop at only one site to qualify for free shipping. Or check some of the sites I’ve listed above for upcoming free shipping days.

Another Site to Visit
And be sure to check out This site allows shoppers to research everything on their list for the best price regardless of whether you plan to buy it online or in the store. This site also launched a free shipping feature

And Don’t Miss…Here’s another great site to stop by before you do any shopping Founder and editor Dan de Grandpre predicts more sales on luxury brands this year. He also predicts online shopping will see discounts as deep as those in 2001 after the bust. He thinks we’ll see better deals on tech gifts, gadgets and computers. And he even has advice on the best time to shop. Luxury items; check out Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, for items like HDTV GPS and Blu-ray, wait until right before Christmas for the lowest prices.

Earn as You Spend
I love to get rewards for shopping and CVS/Pharmacy ExtraCare Rewards allows you to collect what’s known as Extra Bucks. Collect enough Extra Bucks and you can get free items.

Don’t Look in the Obvious Spots
On Saturday I received a flyer from the local DIY store. It’s a preview of their Black Friday deals. And yes, they have the usual DIY stuff, drills, ladders, etc. But they also have some great deals on DVDs, DVD players, MP3 players, slippers, toys, you name it and at prices that can’t be beat. So don’t just shop at the most obvious places, deals are everywhere this year.

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