Some of the best deals of the year — whether for electronics, toys, or furniture — pop up over the holidays.
It’s also the busiest shopping time of the year. You've probably seen the Black Friday memes that show crowds of people fighting for the latest toy or game. Last year, more than 154 million people braved the crowds on and offline with the hopes of saving big.
If you want to snag some major savings over the next few weeks, you’ll need to be a savvy shopper. Use this holiday and Black Friday guide to help you get the best deals:
Do your homework
First things first — you’ll need to do some homework. Study ads online and circulars that come in the mail to get an idea of what deals are happening when. It’s also a good idea to sign up for loyalty programs or get on email lists with your favorite stores — subscribers are often the first ones to hear about great sales.
Comparison shop the smart way
During this time of year, all the major retailers try to outdo each other, so it pays to comparison shop. You can compare ads, but you can also turn to websites and apps that will do the work for you. Sites like Pricegrabber and PriceWatch allow you to search for items and show you where to find the best deal online or in the stores.
Another helpful Black Friday tip is to download apps like ShopSavvy, which allow you to scan barcodes on your smartphone and tell you whether or not you’re getting the best deal.
The early bird gets the deal
This is not the time of year to procrastinate. The closer it gets to the holidays, the longer the lines get and the greater the chance the items you want will sell out. This is especially true for food items, so get your Thanksgiving and Christmas feast shopping done early.
While you’re out running errands and shopping in the days leading up to the holidays, stock up on things like stocking stuffers, gift wrap, and tape so you won’t have to make any last-minute runs.
Have a well-thought-out plan
You’ll save money and time if you make a plan before you start shopping. If you’re going shopping for Black Friday, for example, make a list of specific items you want at each store. This will help curb impulse buys and can make your shopping more enjoyable.
Know when to buy what
Black Friday is often considered the best shopping day of the year, but Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday may actually have better deals, depending on what you want to buy. Take a look at the best days to score the items you really want:
- Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving Day often has the best prices online and in-store for electronics, appliances, and entertainment items like game consoles and video games.
- Black Friday: You’ll likely score the best deals on toys, clothing, and household items on Black Friday.
- Cyber Monday: If you don’t want to brave the stores, Cyber Monday historically has the best deals on travel, laptops, kitchen appliances, and shoes.
Keep your loot safe
The number of thefts from “porch pirates” (thieves who target packages left on porches and doorsteps) increases during the holidays.
If you’re doing online shopping, take steps to keep your goods safe from theft:
- Don’t let packages stay on the porch for long. Using a doorbell camera you can see when packages are delivered. If packages are delivered while you're away, smart locks come in handy. You can unlock your door via your smart home app, allowing delivery drivers to place packages inside your house or garage instead of leaving them on the porch.
- Keep your front porch well-lit. Thieves tend to avoid areas that are well-lit. This is another way a smart home can come in handy. If you’re not home, simply turn on your porch lights via your app.
- Invest in home monitoring. A security system with 24-7 monitoring will keep your home protected round the clock while you’re out hunting for deals. Bonus: the presence of a security sign in your yard also acts as a deterrent to thieves.
With a list, a plan, and a little preparation, you can score some fantastic deals — and keep your sanity intact at the same time!