There’s one full weekend left before Christmas – are you ready? I started this post weeks ago. And then life happened. I’ve been finished with my holiday shopping for over a week now, so I thought I’d share my Black Friday story (and any tips I may have for saving a bit of cash, which is always important.)
I’m no stranger to Black Friday shopping, but I’ve never been shopping with my mother-in-law or sister-in-law the day after Thanksgiving, until this year. The husband and I were in his hometown for Thanksgiving, so on Thanksgiving day, we came up with a shopping plan. We would leave Friday morning around 4, to get to Wilmington by 5. (It definitely made my regular 6-mile trip to Target look like a walk in the park. Especially at 4 a.m.)
Let’s back up a little. A couple of months ago, I got a $5 gift card at Target (for buying two of something, I’m sure.) I stuck it in my wallet and forgot about it. In September, I won a $20 Target gift card and came across the other $5 card. I decided at that point that I’d save them for Christmas shopping. It wasn’t like I was missing the money or anything. Over a couple of months, I had gathered $45 in gift cards. And in October, I cashed in some credit card points to get a $50 Visa gift card. (I use my credit card for large purchase, especially online, and pay the card off. The points accumulate and I cash them in about once a year, or more frequently if I have them.)
A couple of weeks ago, I was in Target (I LOVE that store!) when I saw something that I knew would be perfect for my husband. And it was on clearance. So I went back that night, without him, and bought his “big” gift, which I can’t name for obvious reasons. It was marked down from $129.99 to $59.99 and I used the Visa gift card on it. Major score for me.
So on Thanksgiving Day, I made my list based on the store fliers I knew we were going to check out. It was important that I stuck to that list. I can definitely be an impulse-shopper, and I needed to remain focused.
Time is also a big deal to me. I don’t like to waste it. So when we got to Target (which my sister-in-law said looked like a car dealership), I said we needed to grab a cart in the parking lot, and find the end of the check-out line. Once in line, we took turns hanging with the cart so the other two could shop. It took just over two hours to get through the line. Madness.
Almost everything I bought at Target was on sale, and if you spent more than $100 you got a $10 gift card to use at another time. I made a note of that and bought two items that weren’t on sale, but I was going to get at some point anyway. And THEN I had a card that allowed me to get a gift card for $15 from a purchase of $150. (My sister-in-law ended up using that card and giving it to me.) So now I have $25 in gift cards again!
My total on Friday morning at Target around $120 – and I had $45 in gift cards.
After Target, we hit the mall and then A.C. Moore and TJ Maxx. The only store (besides Target) that I spent a decent amount of money at was JCPenney, and it was under $50. They have some of the best Black Friday sales. Actually, they have awesome sales in general. Check them out if you’re not a regular JCP shopper.
The key to my shopping was having a list, and the cash. I needed to stay on a budget this year, and I did that. Even with my online purchases. And if you think my Black Friday shopping skills were good, you should see my online shopping. I have a really great amount already on Ebates. For every purchase I make online, I start at Ebates to make sure that I’m getting cash back. The amount is automatically credited to my account, and with some of their December double cash-back deals they’ve had, I’ve managed to rack up over $50 credited to my account. The check in February is going to be pretty sweet!
Check Amazon’s deals of the day. I’ve bought one item that was a Lightning Deal, essentially getting it for more than 50% off. They’ve been matching a lot of the stores sale prices, and if you aren’t a Prime member (which I am), you get free shipping on purchases over $25. I’m a huge fan of online shopping – it saves time, hassle and sometimes money.
Google the store name for promo codes (throw promo codes into the search.) retailmenot.com is a great resource for good codes, or you could also try using PromoCodeWatch who have great deals too. And if you subscribe to some stores emails, they often send out coupon codes. (Old Navy and Gap have been great about this and I’ve made at least two purchases from them, received 8% cash back from Ebates, and got free shipping. Score, score, score!)
So have you finished shopping? Have any tips for me? You never know…I may be up for one last shopping trip this weekend.