Given rising prices and economic uncertainty, consumers are facing a lot of pressure this year when it comes to Black Friday and holiday shopping. By shopping the sales early and following the prices as they fluctuate, people can make sure they’re getting the best deals. It’s also a good idea to layer cash back offers and discount codes whenever possible. apps and browser extensions can help. Shoppers can often find additional savings by joining loyalty programs, attending in-store events in person, and requesting price matches. Talking with your friends and family about setting spending limits on gifts this year is also a great strategy.
This holiday shopping season promises to be longer, more expensive and, in some ways, more chaotic than previous years, making it easier to overspend. But there are also significant savings opportunities if you know where and how to look for them.
“There are supply chain issues, inflation, big retailers cutting inventory — when you put it all together, it looks like a recipe for disaster,” says consumer coupon expert Jill Cataldo. based in Chicago. His solution? “I started shopping now. If you see something and it looks like a good deal, it’s time to pick it up.”
Indeed, while prices are higher overall, retailers have already kicked off the season of holiday deals, spreading discounts and sales over the last three months of the year. Given this complicated backdrop, here are the best ways to save money this Black Friday season:
1. BUY EARLY AND OFTEN
It may seem counter-intuitive, but starting early can lessen the impact on your budget and allow you to land the best deals. “I look at prices, see which retailer has the best price, and always look for coupons before I buy — anything is better than paying full price,” says Cataldo. When she makes an advance purchase, she keeps the receipt handy in case the price drops and the retailer offers a price match.
2. BE RELENTLESS ON PRICE COMPARISON
Apps, browser extensions, and other tools that will help you track and compare prices abound; you just have to choose the one you like to use the most. You can find picks that crawl the web in the background while you shop and alert you to lower prices, discount codes, and cash back opportunities.
For example, the ShopSavvy shopping app will track price changes on specific items. John Boyd, co-founder and CEO of Monolith Technologies, owner of ShopSavvy, says he uses this feature for things he watches, like a single-lens DSLR camera. “I want to get an alert the second these items go down because they might only be on sale for a few minutes and then the quantity runs out,” he says.
The Camelizer app performs a similar function for Amazon prices in particular.
Greg Lisiewski, vice president of PayPal Shopping, which includes the Honey shopping browser extension, says that when he wants to buy something, he looks up the retailer in the PayPal app to see if any discounts are available (under the “Offers” section).
These discounts are particularly valuable now as PayPal Honey reports that toys and games are 11% more expensive this year compared to last year, coffee machines are up 7% and cycling equipment and gear is up 9%. The company also reports that the biggest reductions this holiday season have been in cosmetics, musical instruments and general department stores.
3. LAY OVER COUPON CODES AND CASH BACK
Getting a bargain isn’t just about price: you can add further savings with coupon codes and cashback offers.
Cataldo takes advantage of cashback offers, which are available through apps such as Rakuten, CouponCabin and Ibotta. “It’s just an extra step if you go shopping online and then you get a check,” she says. “I like easy things, and it’s very easy.”
Scott Kluth, founder and CEO of CouponCabin, says stores with excess inventory will often have discounts of 10% to 15%, and cashback offers range from 3% to 20%. “Pile all those savings on top of each other,” he says, adding that sometimes online retailers accept multiple discount codes and offer free shipping.
4. GET TO KNOW YOUR LOCAL STORES
Deborah Weinswig, CEO and founder of Coresight Research, a retail research and consulting firm, says knowing your local stores and attending in-person events can be the way to close the biggest deals. “Store managers have the ability to negotiate and price match or beat prices,” she says, especially when they have excess inventory on hand.
She suggests joining live streams, following your favorite brands on social media, and signing up for brand loyalty programs to be the first to know about discounts or sales. “Some codes are only good for 24 hours and some prices are only good for four hours,” she says, so if you want the best deals, be prepared to act fast.
5. TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT THE DISCOUNT
With so many people feeling the pressure of rising prices, it’s a good year to talk with family and friends about setting limits. For Sarah Schweisthal, social media manager of budgeting app You Need a Budget, that means creating a gift exchange with family members so that each person only buys one gift as part of a gift. agreed spending limit. “We all used to buy each other presents, but there are a lot of adults in our family. It just took one of us to say, ‘Hey, that doesn’t seem sustainable,'” she says.
Schweisthal believes the gift-exchange approach has saved his family hundreds of dollars — and this year in particular, that’s more important than ever.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by personal finance website NerdWallet. Kimberly Palmer is a personal finance expert at NerdWallet and author of “Smart Mom, Rich Mom.” Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @KimberlyPalmer.