Black Friday and Cyber Monday Coming Up – Are You Ready?

Two of the hottest shopping days of the year are right around the corner. Are you ready to snatch up the deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Here are some tips to stretch your holiday shopping dollars:

  • These days, many retailers will match the price of a competitor. It’s reached the point where a brick-and-mortar store will go toe-to-toe with online retailers. So don’t be shy when it comes to asking about price matching.
  • Be cautious when shopping online:
      • Stick with trustworthy sites and sites where you’ve shopped before.
      • Don’t shop on a public WiFi network, unless you want to potentially expose credit card and other personal financial information to cyber thieves lurking in the shadows. These networks lack the proper security protocol to guard against crooks.
      • Look for the lock in the URL to ensure the site you’re shopping on has strong security features.
      • Be aware that the new “chip” credit and debit cards have made it more difficult for crooks to steal your financial information in brick-and-mortar stores. That’s the good news. The bad news is that thieves have shifted their attention to online shopping, since the chip cards don’t offer the same safeguards in the cyber sphere.
  • If an online deal looks too good to be true, then steer clear of it. Chances are what you see isn’t going to be what you get.
  • Read the fine print. If you see an ad that boasts a rock-bottom price for an item you’ve been searching for, check for disclosures such as “limited quantities” or “limited to store stock.” You may also be restricted from buying more than one of the item or buying that item at the “bargain basement” price on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
  • He/she who hesitates loses out. If you wait too long – whether it’s online or going into a store – chances are you’re not going to get the bargains you’ve been looking for (see the tip above regarding “limited quantities”). With more retailers starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving night if not sooner, you may have to readjust your buying strategy to grab the deals before others do.
  • Don’t be surprised if Cyber Monday bargains aren’t what they used to be. A recent survey by a British firm showed that of the 76 percent of U.S. and U.K. consumers who indicated they will be shopping online this holiday season, only 38 percent intend to do so on Cyber Monday. Those polled said they don’t expect to see as many great deals as in the past.
  • Research what you’re buying ahead of time. Sure, you may get that big screen TV really cheap, but is it made cheaply? The axiom “you get what you pay for” should always be in the back of your mind.
  • Consider using store credit cards if they offer extra discounts or other perks when using their cards. It’s not unusual for retailers to offer 5, 10, maybe even 15 percent off on items if their cards are tapped for purchases.
  • Last but not least, check out social media. Many retailers will announce or offer special deals via Facebook and/or Twitter, so keep tabs on what’s out there. They may also offer special sale alerts if you sign up to receive e-mails directly from them.

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