I hate shopping malls. In general, I actually don’t really like consumer culture at all (even less so as I get older and “wiser”). So you would think that I wouldn’t be a huge fan of the biggest shopping day of the year. You would be wrong. I am definitely not a fan of waiting outside in the cold at 4 AM, pushing and shoving with other people in order to save twenty bucks on a laptop. However, any time I can sit on my butt, in my pyjamas, with a warm cup of coffee, and save a lot of money, I am all for that! For those of you out there (I know we have a lot of Canadian visitors who might not be all that familiar with American tradition) who are not sure what Black Friday is, it is the biggest consumer day of the entire year, and consequently the best day to take advantage of companies fighting for your Christmas shopping dollar. It occurs on the last weekend of November every year. If you’re Canadian, think of Boxing Day Sales on steroids.
Representing Canada In The Inaugural World Championships of Shopping – My Mom!
I know there are people out there who see shopping as a sport. They love the adrenaline rush of getting the best deals, going to great lengths to find the best deal (and then brag about it). Black Friday holds an almost religious significance for these people. While there are definitely deals out there to be had on the fourth Friday of every November, I would argue there that there are even more to be found online. The idea of Black Friday has now expanded to include a whole week’s worth of sales in many cases, and my specific favourites are the inventory clearouts that center around “Cyber Monday.” Cyber Monday is a more recent shopping phenomenon that refers to the Monday after the magical Black Friday. I was skeptical when someone told me to check it out a couple of years ago. My thought was basically that profit margins are already fairly low these days, how much lower could they possibly get? Well, apparently a lot lower! I’m sure I’ve saved a few hundred dollars over the past couple years, and this is coming from a guy that rarely ever uses coupons or has the patience to shop for longer than an hour or two.
I have become addicted to the convenience of internet shopping, and when you combine this new lifestyle choice with the power of Black Friday/Cyber Monday, you get a couple of weekend mornings with credit card in hand, laughing at the poor saps who have been out there in the cold for hours already trying to get one of the 7 TVs in stock. I’m convinced that there are few easier ways to save money. I even procrastinate buying stuff that I need in order to take full advantage of all the online deals.
Saving Money Is Never This Easy – Honest!
I have a couple of main strategies that I use to save on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. The first thing I do is call one of my friends in the USA and politely ask if I can use their address as a shipping point. On this hallowed fourth weekend of November almost every business will offer free shipping to the continental USA in order to compete with each other. The shipping cost to send items to Canada is always exorbitant, and most of the time the Customs guys at the border are so busy this time of year, they will let your order through without paying any taxes if it is under a couple hundred dollars. Then, once I have figured out what I want to buy and chose from already reduced prices, I simply Google “Promo Code _____” and there are a hundred sites out there that collect promotional codes from various places. Again, I’m not much of a coupon guy, but this takes literally 2 minutes, and has saved me hundreds of dollars the past couple years. The final step is that I order everything on my credit card. This gives me some pretty decent insurance and warranty coverage. I also get an extra 2% cash back on every purchase I make.
Pros vs Cons
About the only downside to the whole deal as far as I can tell is the fact that I am way more tempted to buy those little things that I would normally leave out. When formerly illogical luxury purchases are now so affordable it has the very effect that the stores are trying so hard to produce. I still succeed in laying off most things (I use my usual standby for determining if something is worth it – do I want it more than the corresponding investment would bring me towards early retirement?), but I get some great stuff for prices no one believes me on. I also know some people don’t like ordering clothes online due to size issues, but I guess since I’m a pretty big guy and always just order the biggest size, it’s not a big deal for me personally.
If It Doesn’t Work, I’ll Refund Your Fee For This Column
Regardless of what you need to buy, or what is on your shopping list for Christmas, I would highly recommend taking a half hour to check out the deals. Is there an easier way to comparison shop than not leaving your couch? Hmm… let me see, race from store to store, dealing with crowds of crazy people, or “click here.” Not a tough decision for moi. If they are going to ship your items for free to your house or somewhere nearby, how can you afford not to do it this way? The money I save by not going to the mall (gas, a likely meal out, and impulse buys that stores thrive on this time of year) is a secondary benefit to me keeping my sanity, but it is a pleasing benefit nonetheless. This year I’ve made it my mission to try and find some really unique and personal books online (I’m trying to encourage this whole literacy thing the world seems bent on ignoring) and I can’t wait to see what sales I find.
What are your experiences with Black Friday? Can you save substantially more by going to the actual store? I feel like whoever made online shopping so competitive and convenient needs a “Wiserhood clap” (if you’re not sure what this is check this clip out) from all the guys out there.