Of course the real secret to saving money on Black Friday is to not go shopping at all, but that hardly sounds appealing to the average consumer. According to America’s Research Group and Inmar, a solid 50 percent of Americans plan on shopping on Black Friday, up from 43.2 percent last year. It might be too late for this holiday season, but the day after Christmas is a good time to begin your shopping for next year. I always head to the local discount store the day after Christmas to check out the gift sets in the holiday aisle that are marked down to half price. Even if I don’t plan on using them for gifts, the discount means some good deals on products like pricey razor sets, body wash, and perfume.

Unless you actually enjoy the Black Friday mayhem or have managed to make it a cherished annual family or friend “event,” here are some of secrets to saving money during the holiday season:

Consider shopping from home

Other than the really big-ticket items that only the first few customers net, many of the same sales from the Black Friday ads can be found online, usually beginning sometime on Thanksgiving Day, and often the night before! Relax after the big family meal by surfing for deals online. You don’t even have to do all the work to find the best deals. Let websites like www.cheapcheapcheap.com and www.Hip2Save.com do the work for you. Target shoppers might want to consult the www.TotallyTarget.com blog, while Wal-Mart shoppers will want to check out www.IHeartTheMart.com.

Set a budget

Decide ahead of time what your gift giving budget will be and then bring that amount in cash with you. When the cash is gone, the shopping is over. Study the ads carefully and plan your shopping strategy accordingly. Shop with a friend or family member and separate inside the store with each other’s lists so you can cover more territory. Are there stores that offer a gift card incentive to  a certain number of early shoppers? Leave the camping out for a television you don’t need to someone else and hit a few stores for their free gift cards. I’d rather net $10 worth of free merchandise than spend $100 I don’t have.

Take advantage of price-matching

Instead of hitting six different stores in one day, find out which stores will price match and consolidate your shopping to one or two stores. Don’t forget to bring the store ads with you and present them to the cashier at the check-out.

Find discount codes

Search websites like www.RetailMeNot.com, www.CouponCabin.com, and www.CouponMountain.com or just type the merchant’s name in the search engine, followed by “coupon code.” Whether it is a percentage off or a free shipping code, there is often a discount code that can be applied to your purchase.

Always go through a rewards site like www.Ebates.com or www.ShopAtHome.com for rebates on your online purchases. These websites send out checks annually once you hit the minimum balance. Ebates also offers daily deals when one or more of the merchant’s rebate is doubled.

Think outside of the box

Remember, it isn’t all about how much you spend. Some of the best gifts involve time; whether that means hand-crafted with love or an event or shared family activity. Last year I purchased a discounted Groupon offer for an overnight stay at a water park hotel. I printed off the voucher and made copies to put in each of my younger girl’s stockings. They were thrilled at the prospect of a water park experience in the middle of January. This year my adult children have challenged each other to a thrift-store duel, where gifts must be purchased at a thrift store and cannot exceed five dollars. A prize will go to the person who purchases the most hideous sibling gift and another to the most amazing gift unearthed at a thrift store.
Mary Potter Kenyon graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in psychology and is a reporter for the Manchester Press newspaper. She is widely published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies and a popular speaker and workshop prese... Read More




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