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On Black Friday, dedicated shoppers will lace up their spending shoes—and wake up way too early -- to score deals. Not me. I’d take a sixth slice of apple pie over a crowded mall any day. As shopping experts will tell you, there are plenty of great deals to be had after Black Friday. You just need to know where to look. We asked shopping experts to share some of their best tips for low-stress online shopping.
1. Know How to Search for Good Deals
Joanna Dreifus, who shares great finds on her blog My Mom Shops, jots down the name and style of what she wants and then clicks on the “shopping” results in Google. This strategy has saved her money on everything from designer shoes from Zappos to Melissa & Doug toys from Gummy Lump. She also checks coupon sites like RetailMeNot and CouponChief for discounts or a free shipping code before submitting any online orders. If those fail, she goes to Google's blogsearch and searches for "(store name) discount or coupon" because many blogs (hers included) pass along coupon codes.
2. Try Deal of the Day Sites, Facebook, Twitter and Sample Sale Sites
Dreifus loves deal sites Zulily, The Mini Social and Mama Bargains for heavily discounted things for kids. She follows her favorite brands on Facebook and Twitter since that's where they post exclusive deals, sales, and coupon codes. Michelle Madhok, founder of shopping sites Shefinds and Momfinds, is a big fan of sample sale sites. “They feature great brands and often have a pretty decent selection of products for up to 70% off during sales that last a few hours,” she says. Momfinds offers an extensive list of the best sample sites each week.
3. Earn Cash Back
Madhok recommends using sites like Hoopladoopla or Ebates, which allow you to earn up to 20% cash back on online purchases on top of retailer discounts. “You may just get pocket change back every time you shop online at a particular site, but it adds up,” adds Dreifus. “I just got a $25 check from Ebates that I’ll use to buy my kids an extra holiday gift.”
4. Sign Up for Price Alerts
There’s no need to trek to a ton of stores to track down the best prices when you can get email notifications about specific products. Madhok recommends Pricepinx. It can be used at more than 1,000 different online stores to track prices. “Whenever you're shopping online and see something you like, you highlight the price and then click on the Pricepinx bookmarklet,” she says. “Then, when the price drops for that item, Pricepinx notifies you via e-mail.” Mobile apps are another great way to comparison shop. Black Friday App lists “leaked” and confirmed ads from top retailers while TheFind allows you to scan a product’s barcode to find out its price at other stores and websites.
5. Save on Shipping
Mary Darling and Leah Ashley, the duo behind Fabulous on a Budget, suggest picking up your online purchases at the store whenever possible to bypass shipping costs. Shipping subscription services are another option. Michelle recommends ShopRunner because members get free 2-day shipping and free shipping on returns at more than 40 retail partners including Lord & Taylor, Toys R Us and Radio Shack. The site offers a risk-free, 30-day trial, in addition to a monthly $8.95 membership or an annual $79 cost.
6. Can’t Find the It Gift for Your Kid? Don’t Sweat It!
If you can’t find the one toy your kid really wants, try a few focused online searches. “Unless the item is very rare or vintage, you will likely be able to find it somewhere,” Dreifus says. But be prepared to pay top dollar. “Top-selling, hard-to-find items are always being re-sold on Ebay or Craigslist. And make sure to do an extensive Google shopping search to track down every possible online site that might have the item in stock,” she adds. If you’re still not able to find it, don’t stress. Chances are your kid will love the alternate cool gift you’ve found so much that he’ll be happy to wait until his birthday to get the “it” gift (which he may just forget about by then anyway).