Even with the economy looking like it might be on the mend, busy working moms are trying hard to stretch their dollar a bit more this holiday season. Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving -- is usually the busiest shopping day of the year. These tips and tricks will help you make the most of your money, whether you’re braving the post-turkey-day crowds at the stores or logging on and shopping from the comfort of home.
1.) Do your research. Have your wish list ready? Great. Now, go online and check the prices at different stores (don’t forget to add in any processing or shipping fees). This will help you to know whether the price you see at the store really is that great of a deal, or if you’re better off waiting.
2.) Buy the newspaper (even if you usually read it online). Why spend money on the print version? Luke Knowles, co-founder of Coupon Sherpa and the Ask Coupon Sherpa blog, points out that there’s a reason the Thanksgiving Day newspaper is the fattest newspaper of the year. Advertisers annually stuff this paper with coupons and circulars advertising their best sales, which you can augment, in some cases, with online coupons.
3.) Look for online coupons. Some places allow you to use printable coupons as well as the ones from the newspaper.
4.) Have a plan of attack. Take your wish list, look at the circulars, and draw up your shopping-day plan. What are your must-have items? Which stores have them in stock? Decide which stores you want to shop and in what order. Try to stick to your list! This isn’t the time for impulse purchases!
5.) Check the item carefully. Is it practically free because practically nothing is included? Do you have to buy a $50 power cord in order to use that $30 gadget?
6.) Carpool, or catch a ride. Avoid parking nightmares (and prices!) by carpooling with a friend or having someone drop you off and pick you up later. Public transportation sounds great, until you’re trying to board the bus with your arms full of packages. If you must drive yourself, heed the advice of MIT professor Dick Larson, also known as Dr. Queue: “Park farthest from the main entrance; that’s where the spots are. Trolling for a closer spot wastes psychic energy and it can lead to queue rage.”
7.) See if you can buy online and pick it up later. Some stores allow you to place an order online for in-store pickup the next day, even if the next day is Black Friday. (You'll still want to get there early, just in case.)
8.) Skip the stores altogether and shop online. Amazon.com is offering crazy deals all week, with some of the prices matching the types of door-buster bargains you’d find in brick-and-mortar stores. (Example: Slumdog Millionaire on DVD, regularly $29.98, on sale for $7.99.)