Many consumers love to take advantage of the incredible deals and door-buster specials that retailers offer on Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving officially marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and many retailers capitalize on this season by enticing customers with incredible sales that you largely cannot find any other time of the year. The Washington Post estimates that shoppers will, on average, spend about $749.51 between November and December. As a college student on a shoestring budget, this number may seem incredible. However, the sales discounts offered by many retailers make it a perfect time to spend on things you need. To make the most of hot deals on Black Friday and Cyber Money, put these tips to use.
Make a Shopping List
When you live on a tight budget, it is understandable that you want to take advantage of every deal possible. However, you also don’t want to make purchases that you don’t need simply because an item is offered at a great price. This will inevitably put you in a financial pinch in the days and weeks following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Before you get started shopping, make a list of the items you would like to buy for those on your gift-giving list. If you need anything yourself, such as a new pair of snow boots to get through the winter season or new schools supplies, include these items on your list too.
Set a Budget
Take a close look at your personal budget. Consumers can easily overspend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as they take advantage of deal after deal. However, you don’t want to use your grocery money or next semester’s tuition buying a new Blu-ray DVD player or a set of dishes for your apartment. Many shoppers will benefit from withdrawing cash for these purchases. Once the cash is gone, it is time to go home.
Review Ads and Specials
Planning and research are a critical part of making the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. On Thanksgiving morning, you can pick up a copy of the local newspaper to peruse print ads from local retailers. Also be sure to pick up a copy of your school’s newspaper; this might have deals for textbooks or information on fun give-a-ways for students.
Stock Up on School Supplies
The best Black Friday bargains are usually in the electronics or home departments. Scout stores ahead of time to find the best deals on kitchen-wear or small appliances for your dorm room or apartment. Big chain electronics stores often offer discounted prices on big-ticket items, so if your laptop has been underperforming in class, Black Friday is a great time to buy. You’ll also find discounts on smaller electronics for studying, including external hard drives.
Check in with your school’s bookstore to see if they’ll be offering any specials—not only can you stock up on books and school supplies for next quarter, but you can also purchase discounted school apparel, to be worn to your next home game or gifted to family members.
Read the Fine Print
Some of the best deals offered by retailers can save you a significant amount of money, and when you take advantage of multiple savings offers, you may save hundreds of dollars by shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, you should be aware that the best deals, such as door-buster specials, usually have a caveat. For example, the special offer for $200 off a new TV may be available while supplies last, and the fine print may indicate that each retail store only has two or three television sets in stock. These television sets will likely be sold within minutes of the store opening. Other deals may be available only during specific shopping hours. Develop a plan that gets you to all of the locations you need to visit within a time frame that allows you to capitalize on the special offers.
Extend Your Shopping Through Cyber Monday
For students who decided to forgo midnight Black Friday deals and instead stayed in with friends and family, Cyber Monday (the Monday following Black Friday) is a great time to find additional bargains. Since you can avoid in-store chaos by shopping at home, Cyber Monday is especially ideal for purchasing discounted apparel for the upcoming winter quarter. Check out sporting goods stores to get the best deals on rain jackets for long treks across campus. Give yourself plenty of time to shop on these websites on Monday to capitalize on deals.
However, keep in mind that there are numerous scams that target Cyber Monday shoppers. As such, you should only make purchases from known retailers. Also, avoid clicking on links in emails you receive. Some scammers will mimic email template designs of popular retailers, but they will contain a bogus link that takes you to their website. Rather than clicking on links, type in the email address of the retailer manually, and enter coupon and discount codes manually.
All Purchases Must be Paid For
It seems obvious, but when you use a credit card or other deferred payment plan, many students have a tendency to overextend themselves. Remember that all purchase need to be paid for, and the items you don’t pay for today generally end up costing you more than the sticker price. Stick to the budget and keep your revenue opportunities in mind. You may have an opportunity to earn some extra cash for the holiday season, be it by working as a temporary sales person for a local retailer during the holiday shopping season or by plying your collegiate knowledge through an online service, such as high-quality content writing.
Put these tips to use to make the most of the deals and special offers on these two popular shopping days. You can save a significant amount of money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday with smart shopping. As a college student on a tight budget, these savings are practically a necessity!