Tag Archives: shopping tips

8 Essential Black Friday Shopping Tips

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Shopping on Black Friday is clearly not for the faint at heart.  You’ve undoubtedly seen hideous videos of the masses literally trampling each other at various ‘Marts’ around the country, but the unfathomably succulent savings still call out to you, siren-like.  So, if you truly are ready to face the hordes of rapacious sale-mongers, please abide by these money, time (and possibly, life) saving tips.  

Know why you’re there.

Under no circumstances should you just saunter into the mall to “browse”; you’ll be shoved to the gleaming floor like a sack of leftover sweet potatoes.  Read up on the internet (and whatever promotional materials were mailed to you) about what sales are happening where.  Like a thrifty Santa, make a list and check it thrice; compare and contrast what certain stores are offering, online and off.  Here are some sites that actually compile the best Ebony Day After Thanksgiving options for you: bfads.net, DealNews.com, gottadeal.com, theblackfriday.com.

Get an early jump on it. 

Since the whole idea behind this day is for the stores to do stellar business (they’re obviously thinking quantity over quality), many businesses try to get a leg up by offering supreme deals before Friday even hits.  At this very moment, there are tons of shops that are offering beyond competitive deals in an effort to pre-beat out their competitors.  Do a quick search right now and possibly do some pre-emptive consuming; you may get the same low prices as on Friday and you won’t need to wear full contact football equipment to remain unscathed.   

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Even if a price looks good, it can be beat.

Don’t just fall prey to the first low marked item you see; just Google that guy and check if there are any better prices in the near vicinity.  You may be shocked to see that a competing retailer across the street is offering a way better deal – and even more surprised to learn that the store you’re currently in has a ‘match-price’ policy.  That means that if a warring chain offers an identical piece of merchandise at a lower price, they will meet that price right there on the spot, so you don’t have to burn precious gas and/or calories chasing it down.  Score! 

Loyalty pays.

If you have any shops that you frequent, there’s a good chance you can rack up points (aka ‘discounts’) by enrolling in whatever sort of rewards program they have.  If you’re the type of person who, understandably, doesn’t like filling out boring forms and receiving annoying promo emails, perhaps you should temporarily reconsider your position on the matter when dealing in this particular Black Friday milieu.  Rewards Members typically are given first dibs on B.F. deals, via discount codes and the like. 

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“Like” ‘Em.

Aside from mailing lists you may be on, you can also bolster your B.F. amalgamation of sale options by following and ‘liking’ certain brands on social media.  There’s a host of companies that offer extra special savings codes when you like, heart, retweet, tag, pin, hashtag, hashmark or hashbrown them.  

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Stick to it. 

Just as mentioned in our Holiday Savings Tips post, create a budget with strict limitations and do not deviate from it.  This is not the time to ‘see what’s out there’ and, heaven forfend, make impulse purchases.  

Don’t Accessorize. 

One of the ways that stores recover the money ‘lost’ during the feeding frenzy of low-priced B.F. items is by the inevitable ‘additional’ purchases that people make while in the store.  You’ve just saved 200 hundred smackers on a TV – but then, high on the adrenaline of having ‘saved so much,’ you turn around and buy a superfluous rotating wall mount that costs 300 dollars.  Be smart.  Know when you’re victorious and leave on a high note (like after winning a big hand in Vegas).  No extra items!

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Cheapest is sometimes just that…

Just because a particular piece is at a jaw-droopingly low rate doesn’t mean it’s going to be an intelligent purchase.  The manufacturers are acutely aware of what goes down on B.F., so they sometimes create products specifically for the day that resemble their fully functioning brothers, but are blatantly inferior in quality.  You’ll notice these can take the shape of electronics that do not come with all the features that their regularly priced counterparts offer, or dolls that are missing limbs.

So, prepare yourself for a whirlwind shopping experience for the ages.  Registers clamorously clanking along to the merry holiday tunes inundating your eardrums, elderly shoppers elbowing your ribcage and tryptophan infused lethargy will be no match for you if you stick to these tips.  Happy deal-sealing; let’s make this the blackest friday yet!  

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-Joe Leone

9 Ways to Save During the Holidays

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It’s the same story every year, isn’t it?  The holidays arrive, in a whirlwind of candied yams, spiked nog and flimsy tinsel, and then all of a sudden it’s January 2nd; you’re cold, still hungover and decidedly broke.  So what’s a festive yet cash strapped gal/guy like yourself to do?  Why, start your shopping bonanza with thriftiness as well as cheeriness, that’s what. 

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Don’t Budge (from your budget), Blixen 

Most people begin the shopping process by fashioning a list of all the people they need to procure presents for, in a jolly and jovial, Santa-esque manner.  This is a big Ho-Ho-No.  You first need to look at the cumulative present budget that you have to work with.  Now, you can break it down, communist-like, by dividing the figure by the exact amount of people you need to buy for, and each person gets a present within this set monetary parameter.  The other option is to allocate varying percentages of the budget to each individual (let’s face it, great Aunt Trudy who’s visiting from Albuquerque, that you’ve met once, shouldn’t get the same caliber of present as, say, your spouse).  After you perform a fair assessment of who should get what, you may find that you need to trim some fat from the list; sorry, slightly sketchy Steve from down the block, no fruitcake for you this year.

Be Practical, Prancer 

A further caveat to factor in to the spending budget is any and all other holiday related expenses.  These may include, but are not limited to, shipping costs for delivering presents to those pesky out-of-state folk, postage for holiday cards, any new holiday specific home decor items, the anticipated surge in the electric bill due to lights continuously running, scrumptious holiday themed treats, and merry more.  Decide what is essential and then assign these things a monetary cap.   

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Carols & Cash only, Comet 

This is an age old trick that can help even the most magnanimous shopper stay within required fiscal boundaries; leave the credit cards at home and only carry wintry-cold, hard cash.  Some people can never stick to the budgets they have devised once they find themselves in the glittering shopping malls, all strategically loaded with goods designed to drain your bank accounts.  To avoid a Maxed Out X-mas, leave all forms of plastic behind and just bring the set amount of bills necessary to get all your stuff.  This way when your cockles are warmed by the sight of a Twerking Elmo or an Electrolux with disco lights – ‘That would just bring little Timmy oh so much joy this year!’ – you are forced to stay within the confines of your cash limit.  

Don’t dawdle, Dasher!

Often the weeks leading up the the big events can be hectic and stressful, leaving you with little time to get your shopping done.  So what’s the result?  You end up sprinting through whatever stores are open on Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa Eve; a virtual prisoner to whatever items are left in stock, at ridiculously marked up rates.  “Was gonna get Janey a doll made of yarn this year, but the only thing left here are these Tiffany earrings – oh well!  We’ll have to get her ears pierced, too – they do that for toddlers, right?”  No matter how busy you are, don’t procrastinate!  Get your shopping done post-haste.

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DIY, Dancer

Sure, everybody likes shiny wrapping paper and all that jazz, but some presents can take the form of actions rather than goods.  Offering to shovel an elderly neighbor’s walkway, cat-sitting your crazy aunt’s even crazier cat, making a few extra gingerbread cookies for your ornery mail-person; all these kindly gestures are presents that will be very much appreciated and don’t cost a red-nosed cent.  

Use e-Cards, e-Cupid!

Holiday greeting cards can be fun, but when you think about how expensive they can be, along with the added burden of postage, in addition to the amount of trees that have to be murdered… e-Cards look like the way to go.  With zero waste and tons of fun, you can customize these little fellows to say (and even sing!) anything you like.  They are either free or very inexpensive, relative to physical cards, so utilizing these can help free up some extra cash for the rest of the budget.  Also, they’re quite time efficient; knock out that entire list in a just a couple of clicks.   

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Donate, Dunder 

If times are tight for you, just imagine how bad they can be for some others out there.  One way to combat the rampant commercialism and overindulgent consumerism is to collect a few of the more mature members on your list (not the lil’ ones, of course), and see who would be amenable to taking a donation (in their name) to a charity in lieu of a present.  Volunteer that you would like to do the same thing; this way several of you can combine your assets and deliver a sizable gift to the organization of your choice.  It’s the season of giving, and going through with this will have you feeling truly in the spirit.  

Let’s Vacay, Vixen

If you have a significant other, significant mother or close-knit family, you may want to skip the gifts altogether and go on a trip.  The good news here is that during the actual holiday dates (Christmas, New Year’s Eve), prices on hotels, plane fares and the like take a dramatic dip.  It’s a great way to come together as a couple, or entire clan, and see some of the natural and man-made gifts already out there for the taking! 

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Be resourceful, Rudolph 

If you end up with a couple of pennies left over after all is said and unwrapped (or are given a few of those super thoughtful ‘gift cards’ to various stores yourself), you can think ahead to next year and take advantage of the cavalcade of sales now occurring at all the local shops (and online as well).  Yes, shopping may be the last thing you want to engage in all over again, but the slashed prices on inventory (that just needs to be moved) are really unbeatable in January.  So light your sleigh to savings! …or something like that.  

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-Joe Leone