The holidays are right around the corner, which means it’s prime present-buying time.
To save you from running to major retailers on Black Friday just to find all good deals sold out or desperately hoping that great present you found online will still arrive on Dec. 24, we’ve rounded up the best shopping tips this holiday season.
Buy tech on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
TechRadar has released its annual guide to the best deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
In general, deals on 4K TVs (especially TCL models) will save consumers money. Cameras will also see a steep price drop, with TechRadar experts especially recommending buying older GoPro models for the most bang for your buck.
Video game consoles also are expected to drop in price, but “the best value comes from games bundled with the system rather than reduced prices.”
Buy on Black Friday, return later — and don’t forget about Cyber Week II
Braving the masses on Friday or event Thanksgiving night sounds stressful but can save a lot of money. While the Monday after Thanksgiving, known as Cyber Monday, offers its own set of great deals without leaving the comfort of your home, it doesn’t necessarily offer the same as Black Friday.
“Buy everything you need on Black Friday and keep a watch on additional price drops on Cyber Monday. If it’s all cheaper on Cyber Monday, return your Black Friday item (or cancel it if that option is still available) and walk away with the cheapest price possible,” experts at TechRadar recommend.
Around 46 percent of all orders this season will be placed on smartphones, according to Zdnet.com. While online deals can mean great savings, phones themselves can make shopping in stores faster and easier using a mobile wallet. Steven Abrams, personal finance expert at Credit Cards Explained, says the apps, which let you load and store credit card information on your cell phone, are faster than paying with regular cards: hold the phone to a compatible scanner and you’re on your way.
Loading sensitive information on a smartphone might seem like fraud waiting to happen, but the technology is safer than it seems.
“Unlike cash, which can be stolen, and credit cards, which can be copied, the card information you load into a mobile wallet is encrypted,” Abrams says. “In order to make a payment, you have to unlock your device and also type the passcode or use your fingerprint to unlock the mobile wallet.”
However, Abrams warns to use a strong code for protection and recommends keeping a close eye on the phone’s battery to avoid running out of juice before a purchase.
Use influencer marketing to your advantage
Many people rely on recommendations from friends, family and influencers when buying presents. Influencer marketing has grown over the years, and thousands of influencers use Instagram to share their lifestyle and products they use with followers.
However, a sponsored post is not always immediately discernable, despite FTC guidelines protecting consumers from advertisements disguised as a friendly recommendations. An Inkifi study found only around 25 percent of analyzed influencers disclosed sponsorships or advertisement in an FTC-approved way.
Still, following influencers around the holidays can pay off: Many offer coupons and discount codes for products they’re recommending, so keep an eye on your Instagram feed.
The earlier, the better, says Andy Webb of Money Advice Service.
Buying gifts for all your loved ones can prove to be an expensive endeavor. Spreading out the cost of presents over several months helps prevent overdraft charges or spending your last penny on gifts.
Even though many companies offer free shipping around the holidays and especially on Cyber Monday, waiting too long can mean missing this advantage.
“Though many retailers will offer you free shipping if you spend a certain amount, the later you leave it to order, the less likely you’ll be able to take advantage of this,” Webb says.