The good news is that you don’t have to wait until Cyber Monday to score some great deals online. You can save money online all weekend. So, instead of spending the day after Thanksgiving in a mad rush from store to store, you can stay warm in your home, enjoying homemade turkey sandwiches and catching a game on TV.
No need to look for parking, spend time away from family, or risk injury fighting over a scarce must-have item. Black Friday online savings can keep more than your budget happy–your sanity can be saved as well. Here’s how to make the most of your online shopping during Black Friday.
1. Know Your Budget
First of all, know your budget. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on Black Friday. If you’ve planned far enough in advance, you might have already saved up money for holiday shopping on Black Friday. One of the best things to do is set aside money throughout the year for your shopping so that you have a tidy sum available for holiday spending.
Be realistic about your budget, no matter the situation, though. Sit down and decide what you can spend, and then stick to it.
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2. Create a List Ahead of Time
If you want to increase the chance that you’ll avoid going over budget, make a list. Who’s on your list for holiday shopping? What do you think you’ll buy them? Don’t forget to consider what else you’ll need for the holiday season, or even think about items you’ve wanted to buy that might be on sale.
Your list is a way to guide you away from impulse shopping. It’s tempting to buy a little something extra when it gets your attention, and this is especially likely if you’re not sure what you want and are just shopping to see what’s out there. A list can keep you focused.
3. Look at Amazon’s Deals Ahead of Time
Check the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on Amazon ahead of time. Amazon is especially known for having limited-time deals in the days leading up to Black Friday as well as their sales on the “big day.” Match up the gift ideas on your list or the people on your list with what’s going to be on sale for Black Friday.
You can do the same for Cyber Monday. In fact, Amazon is likely to have deals for several days before and after Black Friday. You can look ahead to see what items are coming up on sale, and you can even see when they’ll be offered. This can go a long way toward helping you make a list, whether you’re looking for stocking stuffers or whether you want to get something for yourself.
4. Don’t Forget About Other Online Deals
Google “best Black Friday deals” or something similar, and you’ll find no shortage of articles comparing various ads and deals from different stores, as well as previews from consumer websites helping you narrow the options. These resources can help you identify what’s out there quickly so you can make your list more effectively.
Stores like Walmart, Kohls and others all put out some of their Black Friday deals ahead of time, and many of them have online-only specials. Do a little recon and you can match what’s on sale with your list so you can shop with purpose and avoid impulse spending that might break your budget. If you can’t find it on Amazon, there’s a good chance you’ll find it elsewhere.
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5. Use Online Coupons and Rebate Websites
Before Black Friday, sign up for rebate websites. Ebates, Swagbucks, and RetailMeNot are all examples of websites that can help you get discounts and money back on your purchases. Don’t forget to use websites like Slick Deals and Coupons.com to find promo codes and online coupons designed to help you save money.
By laying the groundwork, you can prepare to stack your savings. For example, I regularly use Swagbucks online shopping to get money back. If I shop through that portal and use a coupon, I boost my savings. I can turn my earned Swagbucks into Amazon gift cards for later use. If you have Acorns and use their “Found Money” feature, you can get extra cash in your investment account, allowing you to potentially see even greater returns.
Don’t assume that what you spend is the end of the savings possibilities. There are a number of ways to get automatic savings, cash back, and various discounts and stack them, effectively reducing your overall cost for Black Friday shopping.
6. Buy With Your Rewards Credit Card
When used as part of your regular Black Friday online shopping strategy, a rewards credit card can be a great way to make the most of your purchases.
Decide which rewards program will give you the best results right now. Whether you want cash back or hope to pad your airline miles, choose the rewards credit card most likely to help you reach your goals.
Another way to get a boost is to open a new credit card with a big signing bonus before you begin your Black Friday shopping. Your Black Friday shopping could help you reach the threshold you need to get that bonus, further increasing the value of your shopping. A good signing bonus could be worth as much as $250 or maybe even 60,000 miles–which could translate into $600 (or more) in travel rewards.
Only buy what’s on your list, and limit your purchases to your budget. That way, you can pay off your credit card immediately after reaping the rewards. Paying off your card immediately helps you avoid interest on your purchases. When you pay interest, the value of your discounts and rewards is essentially negated, so be sure to integrate your rewards card use with your already-made holiday shopping budget.
The best part about using your rewards card for Black Friday online shopping is that you can continue to stack your savings. Shop through your separate online rebate portal using your credit card. You’ll get the rebate or cash back, plus your credit card rewards. That’s like multiplying your money-saving benefit.
7. Focus on High-End Items
Some of your biggest savings are likely to come on high-end items. Electronics are great for online Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) savings. Many stores deeply discount TVs, gaming consoles and other electronics. You might also get some great deals on accessories that go with these electronic devices.
It’s also possible to save money on clothing over the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend. There are usually great deals on seasonal and unseasonal clearance items. Plus, some stores will give you coupons and discounts to use at a later date. With a little coordination, you can spend on good deals, and then use discounts in the future on other sale items.
8. Consider Travel Deals
No, you’re not likely to score great holiday travel deals when you shop on Black Friday. However, there are some great deals to be had if you plan next year’s travel and purchase your airfare. For example, Skyscanner reports that you could potentially get 29% off a ticket to Tokyo when booking on Black Friday.
Take a look at travel websites to see if you can get some bargains on vacation packages, cruises and other travel-related items. You might be surprised at how much you can save when you book your spring break trip or summer vacation during a Black Friday sale.
9. Look for Free Shipping
Another great way to save money is to look for shipping deals. If you belong to Amazon Prime, you’re going to get free shipping for most items. But plenty of other retailers offer free shipping as part of their Black Friday deals. You need to figure out whether you need to spend a minimum amount of money in order to get free shipping, or if it’s just offered. You can also look for free shipping promo codes online to help you at checkout.
If you’re sending something to someone else, consider having it sent directly, instead of having it shipped to you and then shipping it to the recipient. If a gift wrap option is available, it might be worth it. Then, your recipient can simply place it under the tree–and you’ve used your free shipping promo code to save a little.
10. Don’t Assume Black Friday is the Best Deal
Finally, don’t assume that Black Friday online savings are going to be the absolute best option. In fact, you might be able to score better deals on Cyber Monday, or by checking smaller retailers on Small Business Saturday. Even local businesses might have some online shopping options to consider, so don’t forget about them.
In some cases, you could even see better deals if you do your online shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Sneak away from the after-dinner conversation (maybe when politics come up) to check online for some early bargains. Just make sure you’re back in time for pie.
It’s also worth noting that sometimes you can find deals that are just as good throughout the year, or for decor, waiting until after Christmas to make your purchases. If you’re looking for items that have a more permanent nature in your home, waiting for steep post-holiday discounts might be worth it.
Planning ahead can help you keep an eye out for the best deals year-round, allowing you to save money, even if you don’t do your shopping on Black Friday.