There's nothing like Black Friday to bring out the crazy in people. For advice on keeping your cool while battling the crowds and saving tons of cash, we consulted Michelle Madhok, online shopping expert and CEO of SheFinds.com. Keep reading for her genius tips.
Heading into a store aimlessly looking for deals just isn't going to cut it. In the days leading up to Black Friday, Madhok suggests making a list of who you need to buy gifts for and checking them off as you do your shopping. "This will help you focus, which is necessary when speed is of the essence," she says.
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Become a "fan" of your favorite stores.
Another way to prep is by signing up for email newsletters from deal sites like SheFinds.com, and to follow your favorite retailers on Facebook and Twitter. "They frequently give subscribers early access to sales or additional discounts," Madhok says.
Buy the most expensive items first.
Madhok says there's a reason why electronic stores like Best Buy get crazy long lines hours before the doors open: "Seventy percent off of a TV is worth more than 70 percent off gloves," she explains. But even though things get very chaotic and you want to be the first to grab big ticket items, she stresses that you really need to check the item out before heading to the register. "Know what you're buying. Some of the holiday electronics with low sale prices are derivatives, special models made for the sale, and they have less features than a standard model in the product line," she says. "You need to check the specs very carefully so you know what you're getting."
Don't wait until Cyber Monday to hunt for deals online.
A lot of people think they should focus on in-store deals on Black Friday and online deals on Cyber Monday, but Madhok says online deals actually start on Thanksgiving Day. "Also, when you need to shop quickly to score the deal, use an autofill tool for your credit card and shipping address," she says. "You can set up tools like Roboform to remember your passwords to your favorite sites and also fill in shipping addresses to various places." Speed counts! She suggests using cashback sites like Ebates.comand other shopping sites that allow you to earn up to 20 percent cash back on online purchases on top of retailer discounts.
Keep tabs on your items before you log-on to buy them.
One mistake Madhok says she sees people making is assuming whatever it is they want to buy will be in stock when they want to buy it. The closer we get to Christmas, the less likely that is to be the case. "Make sure the items are in stock or guaranteed for delivery by a certain date or you might be stuck handing out IOUs," she says. "I've had this happen personally where a week after I made a purchase, I was sent an email saying it was out of stock and I had to scramble to find an alternative gift." Yikes!
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence