Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge shopping days famous (or infamous depending on how you look at it), known for luring consumers with over-the-top bargains. But for some savvy shoppers, the advertised sale prices are just the beginning when it comes to saving money. Here are some additional ways to score even more savings during the year's two biggest shopping frenzies.
Retailers advertise huge sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the actual discount on the product you're seeking may be minimal. To ensure you're getting the best bang for your buck use shopping-comparison apps and browser extensions. Among the options are Invisible Hand, an extension that lets you know if a product is cheaper elsewhere and CamelCamelCamel, an Amazon price tracker that reveals if a product has been cheaper before. The BuyVia app is focused on tech products and allows for comparing prices at national and local outlets.
Get the inside scoop on Black Friday deals and specials ahead of everyone else by signing up for retail newsletters, says Kendal Perez of CouponSherpa. "Create a separate email account for these promotions so they don't clutter up your personal inbox and consider unsubscribing after the holidays so you're not tempted to spend during the rest of the year," Perez says.
Flash sales are not uncommon on Black Friday and throughout the weekend, Perez says. Brands will use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other channels to get the word out about last-minute deals, so make sure to follow your favorite brands.
If you don't have the time to do a price comparison on every single purchase, consider getting a credit card that offers price-protection, says Sarah Hollenbeck, shopping and savings expert at Offers.com. "That way, if you find a better deal on the same item within 60 to 90 days, you can get the difference refunded to you," Hollenbeck says.
Every store will try to entice you with special deals and steals, but shop smart, says Natasha Rachel Smith, personal finance expert for the rebate site TopCashback.com. "Toys for example might seem like a great purchase, but major retailers do big toy deals between Black Friday and Christmas that will save you more money," says Smith.
Many retailers try to convince you to buy pricey extended warranties on products as you're making a purchase, particularly for technology items. Such warranties may be worth the money for some folks, but instead of spending a ton of cash on these warranties, use a credit card that offers warranties no matter where you shop, Hollenbeck advises.
Many stores offer early-bird sales to the first customers through the door. Get there before the sun rises -- some sales start as early as midnight -- and you will likely have the opportunity to pick from the store's freshest stock at the lowest prices.
Be prepared and be organized when it comes to your Black Friday expedition. Begin by establishing a budget of how much you can afford to spend and also a list of what you're seeking to buy. Then identify whether the things you want to buy are cheaper online or offline, says TopCashBack's Smith.
One more note about the importance of research. Sites like BlackFriday.com compile Black Friday ads from many stores. And the site is updated with new information as it becomes available, allowing you to figure out well ahead of time where to get the best deal. And this site is just one example. "Most major retailers will release their deals for Black Friday the week before to give consumers time to plan and get excited about what they want to purchase," Smith says.
Amazon and others like Apple frequently sell items that are used and thus will cost less, saving you even more money on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Hollenbeck notes.
Store managers are often empowered to give a certain percentage off on items, beyond the advertised price, Hollenbeck says. "It doesn't hurt to try to fight to bring the price down," she explains. "If a competitor has the same or better price, they will likely beat that price by 10 percent to get the sale."
Using gift cards wisely can help you stay within your budget and buying them at a discount helps you boost your spending power. (Come Black Friday, retailers often reduce the price of gift cards by a small percentage.) "They're a great way to get more bang out of your Black Friday haul," says Perez of CouponSherpa. "Raise and Cardpool are popular gift card resellers, and Gift Card Granny is a great starting point to compare discount gift cards between resellers."
When shopping online on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, consider using sites like Ebates or other cash-back portals to earn money while you shop. In 2016, Ebates offered double cash-back from more for more than 500 stores during Black Friday, says Perez, including as much as 10 percent cash back from retailers like Kohl's, Macy's and JCPenney.
Cyber Monday offers more site-wide discounts or category-wide discounts, according to Citi.com. On Black Friday, however, you're more likely to find discounts on very specific items. Think electronics, home goods, large and small appliances, and the like.
A variety of experts suggest organizing a shopping posse so you can divide and conquer. This approach allows you to have more eyes to scope out the deals in stores and snatch them up. And some friends may even be willing to do a bit of shopping online for you, while you're busy hitting the pavement.
For the Cyber Monday shoppers, don't forget about the shipping costs that are part of your purchase. These can often be avoided by having the items shipped to a nearby store. Target, for example, allows consumers to shop online and then pick the items up at a local bricks-and-mortar location. Free shipping is a key benefit for Amazon Prime members.
Just because it's Black Friday and things are already on sale, doesn't mean you should overlook adding coupons to the mix. Combining retailers' coupons with the sale items can double and even triple the savings. "Macy's, JCPenney, and craft stores such as JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels typically offer in-store coupons for extra savings," says Perez.
Save your money for the products you want to purchase rather than wasting it on eating out during your shopping spree, says Perez. "Pack snacks and small bottles of water to curb hunger and thirst while you shop."