yourLDSneighborhood News for Wednesday, 9 November, 2011
Black Friday Bonanza and Cyber Monday Madness
by Trina Boice
Saving money is all about being organized and thinking ahead. Black Friday is a perfect example. Most of us are completely exhausted after all of the busy activities of Thanksgiving and still have dirty dishes in the sink the next day, but the organized shopper wakes up early the next morning, ready to hit the stores and grab the bargains.
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and it marks the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season in the United States. The term dates back to at least 1966. “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. More recently, the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red (posting a loss on the books) to being in the black (turning a profit). In many cities it is not uncommon to see shoppers lined up for hours at stores with big sales–before the stores even open. Once inside, shoppers rush around and snatch up what they can, since many stores have only a few of the big-draw items in stock. On occasion, some shoppers have been so overly enthusiastic about the savings that injuries and even fatalities have been reported. No savings is worth that!
This year, in hopes of surviving the rough economy, some stores have started their Black Friday sales already! Check out these helpful web sites to find some of the great deals out there:
Now, having said all of that, the best gifts are those which come from the heart, not the shopping mall. In a tight economy, we should never go into debt just to purchase gifts. There are plenty of inexpensive, yet meaningful, gifts we can give to our loved ones without breaking the bank. Remember, spending quality time with others is priceless!
Many retailers allow discount code web sites to “leak” their sales information several days before Black Friday. If you love to shop at a particular store, do a Google search with the name of that store, plus the words “Black Friday,” and you might get to find out what steals and deals they’ll be featuring after Turkey Day. Target and Wal-Mart have already released some sneak peek info about nice discounts on their flagship door-buster electronic items. BJ’s Wholesale Club, Harbor Freight, and Ace Hardware have already released their Black Friday catalogs as well.
While the best deals are usually found in the wee hours of the morning when the stores open, most retailers this year are planning on extending their bargains through the Thanksgiving weekend to encourage more consumers to spend their dollars and kick-start the Christmas shopping season. Do a web search with your city’s name, plus the words “Black Friday,” and you’ll find some store listings with their special hours.
While I’m not one to stand outside a store at 4:00 am, I definitely get excited about “Cyber Monday.” Why? Because I can get great prices from the comfort of my home by shopping online!
Cyber Monday has become so popular and a part of our Christmas shopping lexicon that it’s even in Wikipedia now. The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, Cyber Monday symbolizes a busy day for online retailers. The premise was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend, making purchases online that they were not able to make in stores.
Each year www.walmart.com offers some of the best bargains, and this year they’re in a price war with www.amazon.com I love that! Some of the common discounts include free shipping and percentages off the sales price. While I love going inside a real store and being able to touch the merchandise and get my picture taken with Santa, I REALLY love being able to stay home and shop in my pajamas!
Below are some great web sites where you can see at a glance which retailers are offering discounts this year:
One of the great advantages to shopping online is that you can ship directly to your gift recipient, saving you hours of packaging presents, driving in crazy traffic to the post office, and standing in long lines during the busy holiday season. Some stores will even allow you to “double dip,” which means you can stack discounts. Before you purchase anything online, remember to do an online search of the name of the store you’re interested in buying from, along with the words “discount code,” and you’ll be pointed to sites that give you special codes to use in the shopping cart to save even more money!
Each year consumers spend more than $80 billion shopping on the Internet. It’s fast. It’s easy. No crowds. No searching for parking spaces. And who doesn’t love shopping in their pajamas? Unfortunately, one out of ten adults reported being victimized by online fraud in 2011, so you definitely need to be careful. Computer security experts have come up with some shopping tips to help protect you from cyber crime.
- Investigate the vendor. Check the site for refund policies and contact information. It only takes a minute to review a company’s track record at www.bbb.org (Better Business Bureau).
- Protect your private information by never giving financial information by email.
- Start a paper trail. Print online receipts, product information, and email confirmations.
- Choose carefully where you shop. Only shop online at sites that provide password protection and encryption. When you see “https” at the beginning of the URL, you know the site is secure.
- Protect your computer with antivirus software and firewalls.
The Internet has also made the world a much smaller place. There might be a company in Wisconsin who has exactly what your son’s school needs but can’t afford. The website www.throwplace.com is a great resource where charities, businesses, and individuals donate items and can get free items in return. Be sure to sign up your kids’ schools or your church!
The holidays are a busy time to be sure. Remember to pause and reflect on what’s truly important. Toss the guilt if you can’t buy the expensive gift for others that you wish you could. There is no shame in writing up some of those handmade gift coupons, good for one back rub or car wash. People on their death bed never say they wish they had that gadget; rather, they often express regret for not having spent more time loving and serving others.
Attention, shoppers: How do you get organized for the holidays? What tips do you have for saving money on Christmas gifts? How do you get the best deals? We welcome your comments.
Trina Boice grew up in California and recently moved to Las Vegas. She is the author of nine best-selling books and has another one coming out this fall. She earned two Bachelor’s degrees from BYU, where she competed on the Speech and Debate team and the Ballroom Dance Team.
Trina was given the “Points of Light” Award and Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her domestic and international community service. She currently writes for 702events, The Answer Newspaper, and Homemaking Cottage, and is the Entertainment News Editor at Bella Online. She has been writing a consumer tips newsletter for over a decade to help people earn and save money at www.sisterthrifty.com.