- Cover all your bases. If you're up to speed on the different ways to research Cyber Monday deals, then you'll be way ahead of the curve. Bookmark sites like CyberMonday.com, download apps like TGI Cyber Monday, sign up for newsletters to alert you on the upcoming sales, and follow stores on Twitter and Facebook for potentially exclusive social-media deals.
- Research products, not just prices. It may sound obvious, but researching items is essential before the big day rolls around. One of the downfalls about the Cyber Monday is that you can't test or see a product in person; knowing as much as you can by talking to friends who own the items or reading vetted online reviews is key.
- Take advantage of reward points. Last year, many companies offered ways to maximize travel reward points on Cyber Monday. Shop certain deals to get you that much closer to a much-needed vacation.
- Remember shipping costs. When you spot an amazing deal, it's easy to forget about the shipping fees. Make sure you know ahead of time which sites offer free shipping, or compare shipping prices so you don't overspend.
- Beware of scams. Cyber Monday isn't just a holiday for shoppers — scammers love it, too. Only give up your credit card information to trusted, established sites, and don't fall prey to any fishy emails that offer too-good-to-be-true deals.
All you have to do is download the PDFs, highlight the ones you want, and then bring them to the stores with you for easy access. There's no need to waste your color ink on pages of Black Friday color ads when you have our stock lists in hand. The best part? All the items are divided into categories, so you can quickly flip through to the ones you want, or you can just print out the pages with items you want.
- Ace Hardware
- AC Moore
- Bass Pro Shops
- Best Buy
- Dick's Sporting Goods
- Dollar General
- Fred Meyer
- Gander Mountain
- Harbor Freight Tools
- Jo-Ann Fabric
—Additional reporting by Michele Bird
With less than a month until Christmas, there will be plenty of holiday shopping in the coming weeks. Wise Bread breaks down the sensation of cash-back shopping and shares some tips for those wanting to sign up.
In the past 15 years, cash back sites have paid their customers hundreds of millions of dollars. Those customers shopped the same kinds of stores that you do: department stores, toy stores, pet stores, etc. The difference is that they stopped by a cash back site first and clicked a link. That one step — one that added only a few seconds to the shopping process — meant they were paid for their purchases.
RELATED: 5 Best Cash Back Cards
Too Good to Be True?
Some people think that cash back shopping can't be real, that it must be some sort of a scam. I'm here to tell you that it's a legitimate way to get more bang for your shopping buck.
It's all thanks to the wonder of affiliate marketing.
Cash back sites have affiliate relationships with the stores they list. The stores provide special links for each affiliate, so that they can track the origin of a purchase. Whichever site generated the order receives a commission.
It's important to note that rebate sites aren't stores' only affiliate partners. Most deal and coupon sites, many bloggers, and even some search engine results use affiliate links. Many product reviews also contain them.
The difference is cash back sites share a cut of their commission with you.
You could spend weeks researching your Black Friday hit list, but once you're past the doors, it's a whole different ball game. To ensure that you're as prepared as you possibly can be, we've put together some in-store shopping strategies that are essential for getting the best deals.
- Prioritize, and stick to, your list. Whether you use an app like Black Friday or prefer writing on a piece of paper, make a list starting with the items you want most. You'll be less disappointed if something runs out at the bottom of your list than at the top. And remember to stick to it. Once you're in the store, you'll be tempted by other too-good-to-be-true prices, but unless you absolutely can't live without an item, don't go overboard.
- Bring your own shopping bag. Grab a tote bag before you head out the house if you know you'll be shopping smaller items like jewelry. If hand baskets run out, which very well may happen, you don't want to be left with your hands too full to keep shopping.
- Involve friends and family. Not only will you be able to spread out and tackle multiple items, but also, you can count it as a bonding activity. Think of all the stories you'll be able to share after a crazy day of shopping.
- Pretend like you're going on a road trip. OK, not literally, but prepare in the same way you would for a long drive. Pack enough snacks and water for stamina, and make sure to dress appropriately and comfortably. Now's probably not the time to break in your new pair of heels.
- Check the return policy. Before you purchase, ask what the store's return policy is on Black Friday deals. It might be different than the store's policy the rest of the year, and you don't want to be stuck with an item you paid big bucks for and no longer want.
- Keep calm and shop on. We've all heard stories of Black Friday nightmares, but as long as you keep your cool and don't let the craziness get to you, you'll be on your best game and might actually enjoy it so much that you'll look forward to next year.
Fashion and Beauty
Express: 8 p.m. Nov. 28
Old Navy: 9 a.m. Nov. 28
Kohl's: 8 p.m. Nov. 28
Macy's: 8 p.m. Nov. 28
JCPenney: 8 p.m. Nov. 28
Costco: 9 a.m. Nov. 24
Kmart: 6 a.m. Nov. 28 to 11 p.m. Nov. 29
Meijer: 6 a.m. Nov. 29
Sam's Club: 7 a.m. Nov. 29
Target: 8 p.m. Nov. 28 to 11 p.m. Nov. 29
Walmart: 6 p.m. Nov. 28
CVS: 8 a.m. Nov. 28
Rite Aid: 7 a.m. Nov. 29
Walgreens: 8 a.m. Nov. 28
Electronics and Video Games
Best Buy: 6 p.m. Nov. 28 to 10 p.m. Nov. 29
GameStop: 12 a.m. Nov. 29
RadioShack: 8 a.m. Nov. 29
Home Improvement and Home Goods
Bed Bath and Beyond: 6 a.m. Nov. 29
Lowe's: 5 a.m. Nov. 29
Sears: 8 p.m. Nov. 28 to 10 p.m. Nov. 29
Dick's Sporting Goods: 8 p.m. Nov. 28
Sports Authority: 6 p.m. Nov. 28
Office Depot: 8 p.m. Nov. 28
OfficeMax: 8 p.m. Nov. 28
Staples: 9 p.m. Nov. 28
Dollar General: 7 a.m. Nov. 28
Michaels: 4 p.m. Nov. 28
PetSmart: 7 a.m. Nov. 29
Toys "R" Us: 5 p.m. Nov. 28
- Support the local mom and pops. Instead of going to the big-box stores, go to your local neighborhood store. "You never get service quite like you do by shopping local and you generally avoid lines," says Holliday, who does 30 percent of his shopping at these small businesses.
- Shop online. The price difference between in-store Black Friday goods and online discounts is small enough that it's worth skipping the crazy crowds "for the few cents extra you pay." The major day for online sales is still Cyber Monday, according to Holliday.
- Small selection of good deals. Keep in mind that the in-store Black Friday best deals are only for about "ten major items."
- Do research. If you are planning on going to a Black Friday sale, do your research ahead of time by going to sites such as TheBlackFriday.com to see what goods are available. Craft a list of things you want to get and make sure it's worth it before shopping Black Friday.
- Visit the target shops before Thanksgiving. Go to the shops (and don't pick more than four) you're planning on hitting for Black Friday and take notes on the layout. Ask employees where they are planning on placing certain items so you'll be one the first to snag the products. You should do it the day before Thanksgiving, which is today, because that's when the stores start setting everything up or "at least walking the floor in preparation."
- Don't fill the cart. " . . . there are like a handful of items sold on Black Friday that are truly 'deals'. So, don't do it." Focus on getting the great items you planned to purchase, and then leave as soon as you've accomplished that. The fillers can be bought another time.
Despite giving several in-store Black Friday shopping strategies, Holliday emphasizes that the smart thing to do is skip the Black Friday sales and buy everything online. Shopping from the comfort of my computer without having to deal with frenzied bargainistas? Sounds like a good idea to me!
- Toys: The best discounts can usually be seen in less than two weeks before Christmas.
- Game consoles without a bundled item: During the holiday season, you'll get the most for your money with game console bundles.
- Brand-name HDTVs: You will find better pricing on HDTVs in late December.
- DSLR cameras: February will see better prices.
- Winter apparel: Hold off until January when Winter apparel goes to clearance.
- Christmas decorations: Christmas items tend to be cheaper closer to Christmas.
- Exercise equipment: There are usually more deals on exercise equipment in December and January.
- Jewelry and watches: These items are in high demand during the holidays, which means the prices are inflated. Get it when it isn't gifting season.
- Apple iPad mini with retina: Wait a few months to see better deals on the second generation iPad mini with retina.
- Kindle HDX: There hasn't been a trend of discounts on newly released Kindle Fire HD tablets, so the experts at DealNews aren't expecting any this year.
- Bedding and blankets: These items are the cheapest in January and February.
- Wine and specialty foods: You'll find better deals on wine and specialty foods closer to Christmas.
- International airfare: Book trips abroad during the start of next year when you'll see more deals.
With the shaky economy in the recent years, many have been nervous when approaching the stock market. LearnVest shares the stories of three different investors with their reflections on their money moves.
When the stock market collapsed in 2008, many investors panicked and wondered: Should I ride this out or should I make changes?
The market’s spikes and dips can certainly throw people for a loop—especially if you’re new to investing. But if you ask a financial planner about the top strategy that a person could have taken during the recession, here’s the answer you’re likely to hear: People who held on—staying the course—typically fared the best.
“Over long periods of time, markets compensate investors,” says John Tabb, a Certified Financial Planner™ at Questis, which manages market-based, globally-diversified portfolios. “When you try to jump in and out of the market, you have to be right twice—which is hard to do. If you miss one of the two or three best days of the year, you may miss a large portion of that year’s gain.”
Dana M. D’Auria, a certified financial analyst and director of research at investment advisory firm Symmetry Partners, agrees: “Most people aren’t going to outsmart the market. The goal is to buy low and sell high, but investors are notoriously bad at timing and tend to do the opposite.”
What about simply looking at the history of a stock and trying to guess? The unanimous reply from experts: If you’re not a finance pro, that tactic can be a big gamble. It may sound clichéd, but “past performance is not indicative of future results,” says Laurie Nardone, a Certified Financial Planner™ at investment advisory firm Shira Ridge Wealth Management.
Of course, there are always going to be some people who are investment intrepid—like these three men and women, who’ve all been investing for at least 10 years. So we asked them to share their thoughts on what they’ve done well and what they could have done better before, during and after the recent economic crisis.
The All-in-the-Family Investor
Stef Safran, 41, founder of stefandthecity.com, Illinois
“When it comes to my investment strategy, I take cues from older family members. My grandfather never graduated high school, but he became a millionaire through investing. My dad also did well by investing and my mother was in a stock club. There was always talk about stocks around the dinner table, and I listened carefully to what everyone had to say, since I saw how successful they were.
Starting in the early 1990s, my grandparents gave me gift money over the years and told me that I could invest it in anything that I wanted. So I went to a brokerage company, and gradually invested in a total of five to 10 stocks. I chose big-name companies, mainly strong tech firms like Apple, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. My grandfather also encouraged me to invest in Con Edison. He’d say, ‘Utilities are going to be around forever.’
Over the past two decades, even through the recession, I hung onto the majority of those stocks. Now and then, if I saw my dad buy or sell something, I would follow in his footsteps. But, for the most part, I’ve used a ‘buy and hold’ philosophy. The stock market is like Vegas: I’m bound to win on some and lose on others, but slow and steady wins the race. Overall, my investments have doubled, despite the recession.”
Pies — Opt for a fresh Whole Foods pecan pie ($11) with a flaky and buttery crust, toasted pecans, and a caramelized filling. Otherwise go with an equally pleasing frozen pie option like Marie Callender's Dutch Apple Pie ($9) or Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie ($5).
Mashed Potatoes — Out of 12 other store-bought mashed potatoes, Bob Evans Original ($5) scored the highest in Consumer Reports and is noted for its authentic flavor, creaminess, and peppery flavor.
- Element 50" 1080P 60Hz LED HDTV (ELEFT502) ($230, originally $600) at Target
- Emerson 50" 1080p 60Hz LED HDTV (LF391EM4) ($288, originally $420) at Walmart
- Sharp 42" 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV (LC-42LB150U) ($300, originally $480) at Best Buy
- Westinghouse 39" 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV UW39T7HW ($180, originally $400+) at Office Depot. Product link for reference.
- Element 40" 1080p 60Hz LED HDTV ($178) at Walmart
- HP Pavilion Touchsmart 14-B109WM Laptop 14” with 500GB and 4GB RAM at Walmart ($279, originally $398) at Walmart
- Macbook Pro Retina ME864LL/A 13.3” at Best Buy ($1100, originally $1300)
- HP 2000-2D09WM Laptop 15.6” with 500GB and 4GB RAM ($178) at Walmart
- Laptop Essentials Bundle with Toshiba i3 15.6”, 4GB, 750GB, Windows 8.1 + mouse + 8GB flash drive ($350, save $92) at Best Buy
- PS3 250GB System with Batman: Arkham Origins, The Last of Us at Best Buy ($199)
- Nintendo 3DS XL System ($150) at Target or Nintendo 3DS Luigi’s Mansin Bundle ($150) at Best Buy
- Call of Duty Ghosts for XBOX360 or PS3 at Walmart ($40, originally $60)
- Assassin’s Creed Black Flag or Batman: Arkham Origins, NBA 2K14, GTA V for XBOX360 at Walmart ($34, originally $54-$60) at Walmart
- Turbo DVD or Monsters University Blu-Ray Disc ($10, originally $20-$30) at Target
- Over 152 various DVDs: Dark Knight Rises, Ice Age, Twilight, etc. ($2) at Walmart
- Up to 65 DVD titles: Spaceballs, Kick-ass, Sandlot, etc. ($2) or Various Blu-Ray Discs ($4, originally $6-$25) at Best Buy
- 50% off toys from Fisher-price, Playskool, Little Tikes, Barbie, Disney Princess, Hot Wheels, Matchbx, Nerf, Tonka, Crayola, Play-Doh, Step 2 ($2-$65, originally $3-$130) at Kohl's
- Buy 1, Get 1 Free Board Games (Cootie, Connect4, Hippos, Perfection, Yahtzee, Twister, Battleship, LIFE, Monopoly, Jenga, etc.) at Kmart
- Despicable Me 2 Dancing Toy ($25, originally $50) at Toys R Us
- Furby Boom ($30, originally $59) each at Toys R Us
- Leapfrog LeapPad 2 Explorer ($40, originally $80) at Toys R Us
To better plan your Black Friday game plan, print out and take with you these lists of all the deals available from major retailers.