As Black Friday is nearly upon us and the deals associated with such a major shopping holiday weekend continue to encroach more and more upon the Thursday feast, I wanted to share some general wisdom I’ve gathered in hunting for deals over the past several Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekends. These aren’t profound observations, but rather food for thought — something to chew on as you check on the turkey and glance at your phone to check for the next deal. My thoughts on the shopping days ahead:
1) Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t the only days you can get a deal
The truth is that over the past few years, I’ve scored most of my best finds of the season before and after Black Friday (like the 50″ Sharp doorbuster shown above, which I picked up a couple of weeks ago — see: (Get many Black Friday items NOW at Best Buy). Sure, there are always some exciting doorbusters. And it can be fun to go out shopping just for the atmosphere. But I rarely find deals on Black Friday that I couldn’t have snagged early or replicated/improved upon later. Not to mention the fact that….
2) Competition is high for deals
A few months ago, I wrote a post about some things I’d resold recently (See: Six things I’ve resold lately). In that post, I mentioned that one of the principles I keep in mind for reselling is that I’d like to source things with low competition and sell them with low competition. Black Friday is the antithesis of low competition in terms of buying. If you weren’t online refreshing the Kohl’s site last night when the clock struct 12am Central, you didn’t have much of a chance at the $500 55″ Samsung TV with $135 in Kohl’s Cash. And even if you were there refreshing, you still may not have gotten it. Millions of eyeballs and mouse clicks vying for a finite supply makes it more challenging to get what you want.
3) Don’t value Kohl’s cash too highly
While we’re on the topic of Kohl’s Cash, don’t get too caught up in the hype. Don’t get me wrong — I like Kohl’s Cash and I love being able to earn $15 in Kohl’s Cash for every $50 you spend. Just don’t drink the kool-aid and start considering it to be the same as cash. Greg has covered this before, but for the uninitiated, keep in mind that Kohl’s cash is applied before coupons. That severely diminishes its value because Kohl’s so frequently has 30% off coupons. As a simple comparison, let’s say you have $50 in Kohl’s Cash and you want to buy an item with a regular price of $100. You have two options:
|Use Kohl’s Cash||Don’t use Kohl’s Cash|
|Item price||$100||Item price||$100|
|Minus Kohl’s Cash||-$50||Minus 30% coupon||-$30|
|Subtotal||$50||Final cost in dollars out of your pocket||$70|
|Minus 30% coupon||-$15|
|Final cost in dollars out of your pocket||$35|
As you can see, the use of $50 in Kohl’s Cash only reduces your cash cost by $35. However, that’s not even the full story. Sometimes, that 30% off coupon requires a certain spend threshold to be met — like $100 or more. You’ll have to hit that total after Kohl’s cash is deducted in order to qualify for the coupon (meaning that you’d have to get $150 in merchandise in order to be able to use both). Even if there was no minimum on the 30% off coupon, when your net cost is brought down to $35, you likely no longer qualify for free shipping. If you add the cost of shipping, the margin saved by Kohl’s cash drops further. If we next discount the value of Kohl’s Cash a bit further because it is valid for such a short window (and therefore more likely to expire unused), we’re probably lucky to get somewhere around 50% face value out of Kohl’s Cash.
On the positive side, Kohl’s cash reduces how much you’ll pay in tax as you won’t pay tax on the portion paid for with Kohl’s Cash. Furthermore, Kohl’s Cash can come in really useful on items that aren’t generally compatible with coupons — such as Apple watches and Nest thermostats. It’s not without its uses, just don’t ignore its limitations.
4) Don’t ignore the stores everyone else is
Some of my most epic Black Friday / Cyber Monday scores haven’t been at Best Buy, Target, or Walmart — but rather at much smaller stores that were broadly ignored or they’ve been items not traditionally associated with the store where they were purchased.
A couple of examples of deals I’ve snapped up over the past day:
A family member was looking for a Nest Thermostat. While it was scheduled to be on sale at Kohl’s for $200 with $45 in Kohl’s Cash, it seemed like a better deal at Costco — where it was $170 (remembering those strange economics of Kohl’s cash, this should be better). However, better yet was Macys.com. Macy’s had the Nest for $199.99 — but with 20% cash back yesterday from TopCashBack. Did you know that Macy’s sold Nest thermostats? Me neither. It was a better deal than Costco or others, but didn’t get any attention since few people were probably searching Macy’s for a Nest.
In my Six Things I’ve Resold lately post, I mentioned a 10,000-watt generator. In that case, I had paid $600 for the generator (shown above at that price) and earned $60 in eBay bucks. I sold it for $700. That same generator went on sale again yesterday for $499.99. Since I was able to stack the eBay flash sale for $15 off of $75 or more, it brought my total down to $484.99. I’ll ask $800 for it when it arrives and see where it goes — though heading into winter it tends to be easy to sell generators in my area. It’s not an iPad or a 4K TV, but it’s an item I know I’ve reliably been able to sell.
Those are just a couple of things I’ve gotten so far. And this morning, when you’re reading this, I won’t be standing on a mile-long line at Walmart or shoving my way through the doors at Best Buy — I’ll be at Dollar General. The first reason I’ll be there is because I live in the middle of nowhere — I’m a good 60+ miles from most major chains, but conveniently a couple of miles down the road from a Dollar General. The second reason I’ll be there? iTunes gift cards. As you can see in my local ad, they will be 20% off when you buy two tomorrow:
Depending on your bulk reselling relationships, that can make these cards profitable — and thus a chance to pick up some free miles. Furthermore, the fine print says “limit 2 per transaction”, At my rural Dollar General where I’m anticipating no line and nearly nonexistent competition for iTunes gift cards, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to clear out the rack over the course of the day (I won’t buy them all at once in case there actually is someone else in town looking to get them).
5) If you insist on hunting for deals, use Slickdeals Live View
Several months back, I wrote about Slickdeals Live View. This is an indispensable tool for me at this time of year. It’s how I found the Chase Pay promos for 10x Ultimate Rewards at Walmart and 10x Ultimate Rewards at Best Buy that I posted yesterday and even the $25 off of $100 via Visa Checkout at Staples that I posted late last night. If you’re not used to it, the speed of scrolling might make your eyes spin a bit at first, but I’ve found the ability to monitor the conversation live to be useful in determining which deals are worth more attention. Furthermore, someone often mentions an additional coupon code or item or that something came back again and I see the comment right away. It’s not for the faint of heart at this time of year, but it’s an effective tool for finding a deal. Click the image below to go to the live view (you might have to give it a second to start scrolling).
There are going to be many deals that pop up over the next several days. We’ll certainly try to cover a number of the biggest ones here (and even some of the smaller ones) so that you can shop from home and pick up some miles while you’re at it. However, if you do find yourself bargain hunting, try to think outside the box in where you look. You just might find the best deals in places where they aren’t expected.