Attention, shoppers: Your day has arrived! The leftovers are stored, dishes are piled high, and you're exhausted. Yet, today is the day, the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday. Smart shoppers need to remember that along with the hustle and bustle, the steals and deals, comes pitfalls that you need to avoid. Follow these 12 tips to shopping success.
1. Shop with cash! It is much easier to stick to your budget if you are paying with cash instead of credit. Studies have shown that shoppers spend 25 percent less if they pay with cash.
2. Most stores will be offering tremendous deals, but compare which store will be offering the best deal for the item you are looking for. You may find the same item on sale at two stores, but one store may still be selling it for less.
3. Don't assume online coupons are just for groceries. You can print up online coupons on everything from toys and DVDs to beauty supplies and portraits. Use them - it's like free money!
4. Before you sign up for that store credit card for an instant discount, consider this: Every time you have your credit checked, you may be lowering your credit score by several points. If you are in the process of refinancing your home, or buying a home or a car, you may end up paying a higher interest rate on these items because your credit score is lowered.
5. Save those receipts! Most stores will offer you a one-time price adjustment if the item you purchase goes down in price within 7-14 days.
6. Don't pay for gift wrap. It's easier, but you will pay on average $6 per gift to have the store wrap it for you. With that $6 you can buy bows, wrapping paper, and tape for an average of five presents!
RELATED: Do all your holiday shopping online with REDBOOK's Unique Gift Guide!
7. If you are ordering gifts online, check for special promotional codes for added savings by using your favorite search engine, and typing "coupon code" (including the quotes) next to the item you are purchasing.
8. If you do decide to open a store credit card for an additional savings, do so only for a high ticket item, then pay the card off as soon as you get the bill. Paying interest isn't saving you any money in the long run.
9. Extended warranties are usually only beneficial on electronics that are new to the markets. Never pay more than 10 percent of the purchase price for a warranty.
10. Know the return policy. If it is a 14-day return policy, keep in mind that you won't be giving the gift for about four weeks, so if it needs to be returned, you may be out of luck.
11. If your purchase offers a rebate, make sure you get copies of the original receipt, the UPC codes, and any other information the manufacturer needs, then mail it in! Manufacturers count on people forgetting to mail in their rebates.
12. If you order toys online, make sure you confirm the item is in stock. It may show the order went through when in fact it is back-stocked. If it's something your kids will be looking for under the tree, double-check!
Keep in mind, if you don't hit all the sales you still have four more weeks to shop, and believe me, the stores will still be offering sales as the holidays approach.
-Jeanette Pavini, Coupons.com Household Savings Expert
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.