Shop Smart on Black Friday and Beyond

So what exactly is Black Friday? In spite of what Wikipedia says, as a born-and-bred New Yorker, I grew-up reading the New York Times which I am sure explained Black Friday as the first day of the fiscal year when merchants “went into the Black” (stopped operating at a loss).  This day was typically the day after Thanksgiving in the US.  It has since become the unofficial start of the Holiday Gift Season (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, etc.).  But, the Christmas creep seemed to push the start of the season back to Halloween.  Macy’s Herald Square had their store decorations in place the first week of November!

Of course, the reason you are here is to find bargains, and there are plenty of bargains to be found.  You just need to know where to look. These are some of my favorite sites:

Black Friday Ads:

Direct Merchant Specials:

Computers & Electronics:

  • Techbargains.com: one of the original sources for those infamous Dell coupons.
  • DealHack.com: very broad selection of bargains, especially those crazy Amazon Friday deals.
  • Dealighted: even broader selection of bargains because of its user submitted deals.

Online Coupons:

  • RetailMeNot.com: One of the largest coupon collections on the web, usually the most up-to-date coupons available.
  • CouponCabin.com: variety of online coupons

Printable/downloadable local coupons:

  • MommySavesBig: collection of printable national coupons for in-store use
  • ValPak.com: miss a coupon from the newspaper? Chances are it was through ValPak and you can print it direct here.
  • RedPlum.com: another source for printable coupons
  • Upromise.com: a different type of coupon service where you can save money and save for college.

Product Reviews:

  • Amazon: Even if you are not buying from Amazon, research your gifts by reading the reviews.  These reviews are typically your “average user” and should be considered as such.
  • Consumer Reports:  not the widest selection of reviews, but they usually have updated reviews in the Fall before the Holiday rush.
  • C|NET:  not the widest selection of reviews, but they usually review the hottest items.  Plus, members can also chime in with User Reviews.    Look for an Editor’s Choice list.

Camera Reviews & News:

Bargain shopping/comparison sites (be sure to check the vendor’s website ratings below!):

  • Google Shopping: one of the best deal finders on the web
  • Yahoo Shopping: more than just Yahoo storefronts, this service now pulls info from major websites too.
  • Bing Shopping: not to be left out, the former MSN shopping service is growing.
  • CheapUncle.com: affiliated with couponcabin.com, one of the newer shopping sites
  • Shopping.com: one of the original shopping services
  • PriceGrabber.com: the other original shopping service
  • ebay.com: look for PowerSellers with a very high feedback rating! Many companies now sell refurbished equipment direct to the consumer through ebay.

Website Ratings:

  • ResellerRatings.com: is that online price too good to be true, check the ratings of that seller here.
  • Bizrate.com: one of the first rating services for online storefronts
  • NexTag.com: another rating service for online storefronts

Planning your Shopping Route:

  • HopStop.com: need to combine a trip with trains, subways & buses? HopStop with do it. Also has great maps and city guides.

Beware of Camera Prices too Good to be True.  The web is the great equalizer. Anyone can put up a website and compete for customers. If you are purchasing from a NEW vendor, be sure to Google “review [vendor’s website]” before you commit to a purchase. This is especially true with electronic/camera vendors. Be careful and do your research BEFORE you enter your credit card.

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