Christmas is only a mere 5 weeks away, and Black Friday is just a week away! Thanksgiving Weekend means different things to different people. Some it’s about the food, and some it’s about the endless shopping and deal hunting.
When it comes to Black Friday the sales are beginning to start earlier and earlier. I got to see it from the other side of the register last year. I worked in Kohl’s during the holiday season and got to watch in amusement as people waited and dashed off to departments with their carts. My own sister in law was too busy to say hello! The line wrapped around the store from the time we opened at Midnight to 4am. The trick to black Friday is planning a strategy and bringing a lot of extra patience.
An alternative if you really can’t handle the crowds is online. A lot of stores are now catering to those that choose to stay home. Even coupons for gift items for most stores now include codes to use online as well. I am a mom of little ones and personally do not choose to fight the crowds early in the morning. I have enough chaos shopping with them when it’s not a designated shopping day. We have gone out in the wee hours of the morning however to snag a great deal. About 4 years ago we were at Conn’s at 4am to snag a Plasma TV and a washer and dryer. The retail value with included service warranty was 3500, and I only spent 1400 dollars. Then the following year after almost getting in a wreck 3 times in 1 parking lot, having a guy move my basket to the next aisle with my baby in it, I had it with black Friday. I simply won’t do it again. We also have noticed sometimes the best deals come closer to Christmas. We had bought my son a Spidersapien which was marked ½ off at 40 bucks at toys r us, the last week in November. A 2nd trip to the store just days before Christmas, it was marked down to 25 bucks. Learn from my mistake always keep your receipts. Some stores now offer the price matching strategy. If the price is lowered in a certain time frame or you see it at a lower price in another store they will match.
So we have two weeks before the best sales of the year, here’s how I prepare for my family. First off I set a budget. I spend a set amount on each person on my list. This can be hard to do so I break it down by what I want to buy. I have 3 kids 8, 4 and 3, my money has to stretch as far as possible. I set a goal to buy each child one new set of pajamas and one outfit, and then 3 toys for each , followed by 1 new book each, and one present from Santa. If I stick to this rule I can usually keep from blowing my budget to pieces. I also have 5 nephews and 1 niece. Not to mention my siblings and in-laws, you get the idea. I then keep an eye out for store coupons and buy this get that gift card type deals. I keep an eye on Target.com for store coupons for toys about once a week, I also check coupons.com, as well as various brand sites. Think Mattel, Hasbro, and Fisher-Price.
Homemade gift can save a lot of money too, especially for people on your list that can be difficult when it comes to gifts. Do some research on Pinterest and you’ll find inspiration for Homemade Vanilla, gifts in a jar, bath scrubs, candy trays baked in your oven, and gift basket galore. Lots of these items can be made for so much less than a store bought item.
If you have a large extended family that exchanges gifts you might suggest an arrangement of drawing names. This way your entire family can reduce their holiday spending. If everyone is married you could also do couple gifts, making less gifts you have to find time to fetch. Another great way is to make homemade “coupons”. You could print with things such as Redeem for One Free Home-cooked Meal, free night of babysitting, or housecleaning.
Last weekend I had an opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping minus kiddos for once. I usually like to wait for sales after black Friday, but I don’t get many times to go like this one, so I decided to see what we could find. Toys R Us had been running a commercial for spend 75dollars and get a 10 dollar gift card and I had a coupon for spend 100 and get 10 off. I decided to test this out and see if I could get both to work. In the end we spent 109 after tax.My 10 dollar coupon and the gift card were not successful. Upon returning home, I found there was a coupon for the gift card in the ad in last Sunday’s paper, lesson learned. Also, after checking my receipt my coupon was taken but not applied! Can I scream now?! Rule #1—always check your receipt before leaving the store. That store I visited is on the clear other side of town, and I would waste in gas what I would’ve saved in the first place to go back. Oh well, I still think I got a few good deals. After two hours and my feet killing me, I did manage to get about a 1/3 of my kids shopping and a birthday present for this weekend done. The following deals I got were a couple of weeks before black Friday, wait until then, and I’m sure you’ll get even better deals. Here’s what I got:
Crayola crayon maker-19.99**This was 35.00 last year
Classic Battleship-14.99**comes in nice plastic carrying case**The classic boxed version is in the Target black Friday ad for 7 bucks!
Strawberry Shortcake Chef Dress-up outfit-9.99 My daughter specifically requested this as she has outgrown her Minnie Mouse one, I looked all over that store for half an hour!
Hotwheels 26 pc track set-26.99** A lot of the other tracks were 36 bucks and up, this comes in a nice plastic case with a handle for easy storage. This will be my 3 year old’s first set and I did not want to spend a fortune.
Beyblades Keychain-5.49-birthday present for family friend
16 inch tabletop soccer game for my oldest. –19.99 He really enjoys games and we are trying to get him interested in ones other than involving video games.
Hotwheels Motorcycle-3.99**We wanted to be sure we were over the 100.00 limit.
My next trip will probably be mid-morning on black Friday to Kohl’s. I wasn’t going to go anywhere, however then they sent me a 10 dollar cash card with 15% off coupons. So I will probably go after 8am sometimes to see what’s left. Last year the line lasted approximately 4 hours, and my feet cannot take that. Anything else will be online!
I hope you can use some of these tips and find ways to save time and money during these holidays. Just remember the gift giving is only part of this season. Family time and counting our blessings is what is more important. I just love to show people how to save money to take care of some the holiday worries so they can spend that time with less stress.