Oh 2020, the year where so much of our work, personal lives, and even shopping habits have gone … now where did all those things go again???
While some of 2020 is just a total blur, no doubt a large chunk of our lives migrated and can still be found online. Perhaps Cyber Monday should instead be called “Cyber Every Day!” But, regardless of how our lives have changed, the calendar hasn’t. The holiday season is upon us, and if the Grinch cannot stop Christmas and the rest of the holiday season from coming, we’re pretty sure that COVID-19 cannot stop the spirit of the holiday season either. After all, the Grinch had that adorable, little, antler-wearing dog and COVID-19’s got nothing that cute on its side.
So, with the season of cheer just around the corner, let’s take a look at some ways to take advantage of increased digital deals and to get the most out of our (online) holiday bucks!
Get a game plan
The first lessons for staying in “budget” bounds (whether your shopping is online or not) is to make a list! Hey – there’s a reason that Santa does it every year! Making a list helps you to focus and avoid all the unnecessary extras, reduces impulse buying, and gets the most of this year’s digital deals.
To get ahead of the holidays and make the most of your money, it’s good practice to identify what items, offerings, and deals (either in-person or digital) that you will be looking for. According to BlackFriday.com, many retailers are starting their sales early this year, which means it’s more important than ever to identify when and where you want to shop! Instead of a traditional one-day deal model, many businesses are getting creative. Retailers like Best Buy and Walmart will be starting the savings early, with varied sales structures like a November Savings Week from Sam’s Club and multi-day discounts from Walmart. So say “goodbye” to the crowds and fanfare, and snag your deals from home for days or even weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Build a budget
After you’ve made your list, make sure it comports with your budget. Much like making a list, having a budget helps you avoid impulse buys and pop up ads (how does Instagram read our minds?!). It can be easy to get carried away when it comes to gift buying (especially for yourself!). The best way to save money during this year’s big Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales is to set a spending cap. So build a holiday spending budget and stick to it! Budgeting how much you want to spend both in total AND per person can really help you avoid going overboard with high costs. Need a little guidance building your holiday budget? Check out our article How to Create a Budget 101 for some tips to help you get started.
Shop around for sales
With your list and budget in hand, shop around for the best deals. Give yourself a fun challenge of coming in “under budget!” With so many competing offers online and various holiday sales to choose from, who knows what you might find?! Shop around and compare the price points of all advertised digital deals. Two retailers might be offering the same Black Friday, or Cyber Monday buy, but at very different costs – so stop and shop around before adding an item to your cart. With the help of services like Finder, you can scour the web comparing all the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday steals from the comfort of your own home (thanks, internet!).
Clip some digital coupons!
If you’re choosing to shop exclusively online for sales, you’ll also have an arsenal of digital tools at your disposal to assist in saving money. Browser plugins like Honey will save you the work of clipping coupons and automatically insert discount codes to your online shopping cart. Rakuten, a smartphone application and browser extension, will provide you with the latest sales news, coupons, and even location based shopping updates. You’ll also earn cashback on your spending, so it’s a win-win situation – spend AND save. The digital age was clearly made for deals! Looking for more shopping savvy suggestions? This article from PC Mag covers the best shopping apps to compare prices – perfect for finding a Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargain!
Study up on in-store policies
COVID-19 has made many aspects of life look a little different. Besides the obvious (face masks, social distancing, and the lingering smell of hand sanitizer), we’ve all gone far more digital to remain both connected with one another and engaged with the world around us. But what if you want that “in-store” holiday experience? You remember, window shopping and the tinkle of bells when you open the door to your favorite little shop … don’t you?! Before you venture out though, be sure you understand your state or locality rules on public and retail gatherings. Most of us are pretty good at this by now, but a little reminder doesn’t hurt: It’s essential to be aware of and follow store policies and procedures such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and store occupancy limits. Many retailers are posting their COVID-19 policies on their websites and social media platforms, so be sure to scope out the scene before heading to the store! While it is the season of giving, that doesn’t include “giving” COVID-19!
Understand the differences between online and in-store policies
Also, (and perhaps it goes without saying) in-store shopping is different than online shopping, so understand how those differences might impact your gift giving this season!
When shopping for a steal on your next Air Fryer or Instant Pot, it’s important to check on these policies and how they might vary from in-store to online purchases. We recommend doing your research to understand changes in return policies, coupon caps, warranties, and even additional tax and shipping fees that might impact your shopping plans. It’s also important to be aware of where your merchandise is coming from when shopping online. For example, if there are extended shipping times, it might be hard to explain to the kids that Santa is held up in customs. It’s also important to be aware of online shopping scams – like that gorgeous European cashmere sweater advertised for just $10 on your social media feed. Instead, you find that the package on your doorstep arrived from overseas and would barely fit a Barbie doll! Be sure when shopping online this year to read the comments on social media and check product reviews before pressing “check out.”
Feeling ready to tackle this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals? We hope the tips above come in handy for cutting costs while shopping (and social distancing) this holiday season. Wishing you a very merry holiday season from Moneytree!
Looking for more tips to save? Check out our Financial Living for more advice from Moneytree!