The holidays are a hard time to blog. There are a ton of deals out there – but which one is ideal? Is it best to shop on Black Friday, or should you try some of the pre-black Friday sales? As usual, knowledge is power. Here are some tips:
1. Make your shopping list. Check it twice – and then find out if your budget is naughty or nice. Ask your children to give you their lists for Santa, too. The sooner you finalize the overall list and make your budget, the better. In addition, try to share the lists with friends and family who inquire about what presents to get your little ones.
2 – Do your homework.
- Use the major “Black Friday” aggregator sites that pull together the best ads and other information. For this blog, I relied on bfads.net, tgiblackfriday.com and blackfriday.gottadeal.com.
- Use reviews to get the best product for the best price. If electronic items are on your gift list, but you are not sure of the brands, visit websites where professionals and consumers review products. I like to use Amazon.com’s reviews for a range of products. I also suggest parents check out USPIRG’s 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report, expected on November 23, 2010.
- Trust the experts. I have found a couple of sites that list their favorite holiday specials, including www.fatwallet.com, and Consumerworld.com. I have some of my favorites posted below.
3. Evaluate the Deals: To quote Public Enemy, “Don’t Believe the Hype.” As Consumerworld.com notes, “Not all advertised items are great deals.” There are lots of pricing tools, such as the Price Checker at ConsumerWorld.org (to compare prices at many online stores instantly), DealAlerter.com (to get notified when an item's price drops) and PriceHistories.com (to compare today's price for an item to what was charged over the past six months).
While no two people are going to have the same shopping list, one of my favorite things to do is share information, so here are a couple of bargains that jumped out at me after reviewing Black Friday ads and other web posts at Consumerworld and http://bfads.net:
For young kids: My favorite, mainly because it is on my son’s list: Target will offer Mattel Toy Story 3 Andy’s Toys Gift Pack for $29.99; the original price is $49.99
Consumerworld.com reports that Toys R Us is offering 150 toys 50% off. I’m still debating whether I will shop there. Consumer and health advocates have launched a campaign called Toxic Toys R Us against unhealthy toys that contain PVCs. You can see their report, and a list of toys that have high levels of PVCs at toxictoysrus.com. It is food for thought as you review your toy lists.
For teens: The Meijer chain has an “early door buster” deal of $6.99 for a TracFone LG 420G prepaid cell phone with Bluetooth and VGA camera. The original price is $19.99. Your teen has their own cell phone, and you will not experience “bill shock,” thanks to prepaid plans. (Full disclosure: I also do policy work on behalf of TracFone.)
For Teens & Adults (ok, really, for me, hint hint): NOOK WiFi eReader for $99.99 at Best Buy. BFads.com says that the retail price of the Nook is $150, seeing a 33% ($50) drop on a newer, highly desired item, is a great buy. We’ll have to wait and see if other eReaders go on sale as well, but for Black Friday, this is a pretty great deal. Our local library allows you to check out ebooks, too. What a way to save!
For Anyone and Everyone: Who doesn’t love jeans? My son has already outgrown the jeans I bought for him in August (hello, high waters!). If you have kids in the same category (or adults who eat too much at the holidays and need new jeans because of growth in another area), try Old Navy’s Black Friday sale on jeans -- $10 for kids and $15 for adults. (Extra tip: One of my friends buys her daughter the plain jeans on sale, and then lets her pick a couple of appliqués and iron-on patches – flowers, bugs and such – to brighten them up. I love that idea! It allows your child show his or her own personality.)
What are your favorite deals? Do you worry that you’ll pay too much now for a gift, only to find it at a cheaper price later one? More tips on how to avoid that problem in my next blog post (hint: Price guarantee)!