This is an exciting time for bargain shoppers. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are all within our sights — and if that’s not enough, many stores will be opening on Thanksgiving. Even though there will be an abundance of special offers beginning Thursday, it’s easy to go over budget or waste a lot of time. If you start planning your shopping strategy now, it’s possible to avoid both of those issues.
Make a list and set a budget
Before venturing out to the stores or filling your online shopping cart, look at your finances and decide how much you have to spend this holiday season. Then, make a list of everyone you have to shop for and gift ideas for each person. It’s smart to have a couple of gift options for everyone in case your original idea doesn’t fit into the budget or turns into a difficult product to find.
Once you set a budget, the most important thing to do is stick to it. An easy way to do this is to shop with cash. Handing over dollar bills with each purchase makes you much more conscious of what you are spending than swiping a credit card over and over.
Obviously, cash isn’t an option when shopping online. If you’re doing a majority of your shopping on a single website, such as Amazon, add everything to your shopping cart and check out all at once. This could help you earn free shipping and will also discourage you from checking back in to browse for additional products.
One of my favorite offers from retailers is free in-store pickup. In-store pickup helps save time and money, and there are retailers who even offer the service on Black Friday. Browse the website, pay for your purchase online, and then just swing by customer service, where the items are ready and waiting.
There’s no struggling through crowded aisles, you’re less likely to get distracted by unneeded merchandise and you don’t pay shipping costs with this option. Worst case scenario: You have to wait in line for a few minutes at customer service.
The deals offered online may vary from in-store promotions, but there are still bargains to be found.
Popular retailers such as Lowes, Sears, Kmart, Walmart and Target all offer this service. In some cases, you can even pick up orders on the same day.
Though they’re not as highly publicized, many local shops have sales and discounts available in the days following Thanksgiving. Shopping local helps boost the economy in our area and often leads to unique gifts. Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30 this year) is the official day shoppers are encouraged to stop in local stores, but don’t hesitate to call your favorite small retailers and find out their plans for the post-Thanksgiving rush.
Look for offers on Facebook, ads in the newspaper, commercials and notices in stores for clues about what shops have planned.
Tie up loose ends
A few other small reminders: Get gift receipts whenever possible, keep all of your personal receipts in one spot and stick to the plan. Don’t get sucked into special offers you don’t need and always be wary of buy-more-save-more promotions.
Taking the time to compare store prices before leaving home or getting online could save you a bundle. Offers that are available for a short amount of time can wreck your shopping list and budget unless you know exactly what you’re looking for and what price would make you happy.