Social Encore: Get ready for Black Friday
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
The thought of shopping for Christmas presents can be overwhelming, especially since it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! As a Black Friday shopping madness veteran, here are three things that you should consider before the biggest shopping day of the year arrives next week.
MAKE A LIST AND BUDGET
I’m all for sharing the Christmas love by buying presents, but I stick to a strict budget. Make a list of people you plan on buying gifts for and alongside their name write the maximum amount you are willing to spend on each one. If you want to keep a digital list, consider downloading a mobile app.
Two apps I recommend are Santa’s Bag and The Christmas List. Some of the features these apps offer in addition to keeping track of your overall Christmas budget include:
» Helping organize items you would need to buy from each store. You might have an Amazon.com list, a Nordstrom list, etc. This helps organize your shopping trips when online or shopping at the mall. If there is one thing that I hate, it’s trying to beat the busy crowds just because I forgot to buy that one present at a store that I was just at.
» Helping organize items by process. From gifts you need to buy, gifts that have been bought and gifts that are wrapped, this will help you in the end when organizing the delivery of presents.
» Reminders to buy stocking stuffers or to address traditional holiday cards to accompany presents.
SHOP AT A DISCOUNT
A great way to save money, save time and get great deals on name brand items is by shopping at discount stores and websites. For me, every single dollar counts when I’m shopping. Some great websites to check out include:
» Groupon: There are tons of deals from reputable local companies. You’ll find gift certificates to restaurants or chiropractic massages. There are so many things that you could find that someone on your Christmas list would like.
» 6pm.com: Sure, there are physical stores like Ross that sell name brand clothing at great prices. However, you may also want to check 6pm.com. What I love about this website is that you can shop in the comfort of your own home. This helps save you from some of the Black Friday rush. If you are looking for Coach bags or Calvin Klein boots, you may want to look here first.
» Raise.com: I don’t like paying full price for things unless I really need it. That also carries over when I think about gift cards. If you like to gift cards, then you may want to sign up for a Raise account. The great thing about Raise is that you are able to buy gift cards at a discount and could save as much as 16 percent. I’ve bought a discounted Macy’s gift card for $626 (but valued at $700), then went online and used that credit to purchase seven gift cards at $100 each, which saved me time and also a chunk of money.
» Costco/Sam’s Club: If you are a member of Costco or Sam’s club, you can also buy things at a wholesale price or discounted price. You can find discounted gift cards to places like PF Changs or even the movies. Whether you are looking for gift cards or stocking stuffers, places like Costco or Sam’s Club may be easier on your pocket.
You my think you are getting a great deal on Black Friday but it does not hurt to compare prices. You can find out ahead of time what the Black Friday deals are going to be by looking online. There are also mobile apps that can help. There are tons of apps you can download on to your phone to help you compare prices, like RedLaser and Shop Savvy. Type in what you are looking for and the app will give you a rundown of what stores are pricing the item at.
Many people think they are getting a great deal on items because it’s Black Friday, but when I look at clothing and accessories, I use rule of thumb pricing. Personally, I use a 40 percent marker; if the item I’m buying is 40 percent or more off of the retail value, then I consider buying it. Don’t be fooled by signs that say “everything in the store is on sale.” You have to remember Black Friday is a day where many retail companies are creating marketing opportunities to take your money by creating these “last chance” deals. Don’t impulse buy!
Also, don’t be so tempted to buy those boots or jackets at a Black Friday sale. The majority of the time, the best time to get deals on season sensitive items is when the season is about to end. I suggest waiting until after January for these items to go for even better prices.
However, if you really have to have something because you’re scared they are no longer going to be available, grab it. Make sure that to save the tags/receipts/boxes if you’re going to use them right away and that you familiarize yourself with the store’s policy on price adjustments. Doing all of these things will help when you try to get a price adjustment later in the season.
I hope these tips help strategize your Black Friday shopping. It’s better to go out with a plan so you can actually spend more time with your loved ones. Stay tuned — I’ll show you how you to shop with purpose and how to shop and earn money back in future blog posts.
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.