Posts Tagged ‘Bargain Hunting’

It’s starting already. Apple and Amazon are kicking off the shopping season with the rumored announcement of the iPhone 5 expected this week and last week’s Kindles announcement. Even though I won’t be pregnant this time around, we still plan on focusing our shopping efforts online. I really don’t relish the idea of taking a sub five month old out during some of the busy shopping days of the year, in the middle of flu season! As such, it’s time to update our Back Friday strategy with the times.

We’re developing our strategy primarily to catch surprise deals – those we won’t know about in advance. Since we expect the deals to start prior to Black Friday, and continue well into Cyber Monday (which is more like Cyber Week…) we also want to make sure we don’t buy too early if someone else is going to have a better deal.

Price Watching
Dynamic Pricing is becoming increasingly common. It’s been speculated that retailers like Walmart and Amazon will rely on dynamic pricing this holiday season to undercut the competition. In order to capitalize on these price fluctuations, we plan to set up price watches.

We intend to utilize Camelcamelcamel (Amazon price watches), and it’s companion websites CamelBuy (BestBuy price watches) and CamelEgg (NewEgg price watches). Last year, many of the big chains had great deals in the days and weeks leading up to Black Friday for items like video games, books, music, toys, and electronics. They even had price drops for big ticket items as well like TVs and gaming consoles. Sometimes these price drops were advertised in advance, but not always. Price watching alerts you to sales as they happen, giving you the best chance possible to grab items as they go on sale before they’re sold out.

I have adjusted all my price watches on down significantly (I never buy during the black Friday season unless it’s an amazing deal!). Currently on my price watch? Memory Cards for the camera, and baby toys & books.

Price watching, however, can only get you so far. Bundles were common last year, and I suspect they will be again. Rather than drop the price of, say, an Xbox 360, retailers will bundle it with several games or with gift cards. Bundles are popular when manufactures control the price of products so retailers can’t discount them. Apple is a prime example. Many of these bundles will be announced for Black Friday, but some are surprises and will happen in the weeks and days leading up to it. Since bundles appear as new product listings, automated price watching won’t work.

Social Media
When we were gearing up for our baby, I set up Google alerts in the hopes of catching sales from online stores too small to have dedicated price alert websites. I’d set an alert with the name of the product I was interested in, and the phrase ‘(Discount OR Sale)’. The strategy didn’t work for me. Turns out Google alerts were not real time enough. For this shopping season, I’m turning to twitter and social media. Nothing is more real time than twitter.

I’ve already friended companies in Facebook and follow them on Twitter already to watch for coupons. For the holiday season I plan to use saved searches, and set up an account with tweetalarm.com. Once those deals are live, you can bet some happy consumer will take to twitter to share the joy of their new purchase. Since I’m new to twitter, I’m testing both services out now. What am I searching for now? #Blackfriday! I want to catch any other good strategy ideas in time to use them.

September 3, 2012

Foiled Again

My attempt to pay the lowest, rock bottom prices, have been foiled again.

Yesterday afternoon I ordered a clock for Nicki’s Nursery. Domingo and I had discovered that we need to rock Nicki for at least twenty minutes after she falls asleep before she enters her deep sleep. Try and stop rocking before then, and the eyes spring open. Normally I have my phone with me and can time how long we rock, but every once in a while I forget it. So a few days ago I picked out a butterfly wall clock from Cafepress, and yesterday I ordered it with a 30% off labor day weekend coupon. This morning I wake up and find a 35% off coupon for today only. Have I mentioned how much that annoys me to miss out on a the best sale, even if it’s only 75 cents?!

But that wasn’t the only savings I missed out on.

I also noticed yesterday that Shutterfly was doing a 34% sale on canvas prints. Since I wanted one for Nicki’s nursery, I decided to go ahead and order it. Much to my delight, they were also running a free shipping on orders of at least $30. Since I couldn’t do both the free shipping and my $20 gift card, I decided to hold off on the gift card. (Shipping would have been $19.99, and I can use my gift card for Christmas cards.) I finalized my purchase this morning at around 1:41 am. Just 7 hours and 5 minutes later I get this offer in my inbox: $39 Canvas Print from CafePress, including shipping.

Now that one stung.

As an aside, $39 for a 16 x 20 canvas print is a great deal, and (given that you have until December to use it), would make an excellent Christmas gift for a spouse or parent. A quick Google search shows me they run this deal about once a month. Clearly I need to do more research before making a purchase next time.

August 26, 2012

Discounts Ahoy!

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

I predict Amazon Prime is going to save us money in the long run even though I don’t expect I would have paid for expedited shipping frequently. Prior to baby, I never previously paid for expedited shipping. I was the gal who would hunt for additional items so my shopping cart would hit that magical $25 to avoid shipping costs. I was buying extra stuff I wouldn’t ordinarily buy. (Ask me how useful that spaghetti measurer is sometime.) With prime, everything ships free with no minimum order. That means I can use camelcamelcamel.com to wait for price drops, and I don’t have to worry about filling my shopping cart when they occur. I’m really looking forward to testing this combination out for Black Friday! Price alerts & free shipping? Sign me up! The combination of camelcamelcamel and AmazonMom has already saved me $14 in under two months. I’m well on my way to recouping the cost of membership.

A report last year linking prime membership to greater spending, causing some to speculate that prime entices customers to spend more. Sure, that’s possible. I know in my case, however, I signed up for prime because I anticipated increase in shopping with the arrival of our daughter. I guess it’s just one more case where correlation does not imply causation, or at least the causal relationship in this case is the reverse of what was predicted.

Another good source of discounts I’ve been taking advantage of lately came with my maternity clothes purchase. I purchased about half of my clothes online from Motherhood Maternity during one of their spring sales. Turns out they send you a set of coupons with each purchase that includes $20 off from Shutterfly, and 25% off a $40 purchase from Carters among others. Well, apparently my order got split into two shipments so I received two sets of coupons! I used one set of $20 off Shutter fly for birth announcements. Each one ended up costing me 46 cents including tax & shipping! Yes, that’s only 1 cent more than the cost of the postage. I plan on using my second $20 off coupon for the canvas print I’ve been wanting.

As for carters, I ordered the next size up in baby clothes a few weeks ago – 9 onesies and a sleep and play averaging $4.50 each! The sleep & play was the most expensive, but totally worth it. It’s a glow in the dark skeleton. Nicki will 3 and a half months by Halloween, but I think there’s a good chance she’ll still be in the 0-3 month size given that it’s a little just two months away. I also figure we’ll get more use out of it earlier in October than November.

I wouldn’t go out and purchase maternity clothes just for these coupons. Shutterfly routinly does a $10 off $20 purchase, and carters does a 20% off $40 purchase. But they were a nice add on, that amounted to an additional $24 in savings on things I was going to buy anyway.

June 20, 2012

Scheduling Fun

This has been a tough week for me. Despite what our midwife predicting we wouldn’t be going into labor anytime soon, my body tricked me into thinking I was going into labor twice this weekend. I was awoken out of sleep both times to tightening in my abdomen, but it went away and hasn’t returned. It seems like after months of trying to escape through my navel, Zippy has decided my belly is quite comfortable after all.

We are basically done with our To-Dos before Baby. We purchased a crib mattress and a set of sheets this weekend
I repacked our hospital bags (I ditched the multi-bag approach, and just went a single soft shell bag that can hold more and takes up less space). I even printed out a “where everything is packed” list, and color coded the pockets so Domingo can find things more easily. Overly organized and anal retentive? Maaaybe… At least I didn’t laminate the list. Yet. No promises if Zippy doesn’t get here soon. I even finished scrubbing down the bathrooms and the kitchen. The semester even finished, so I don’t have anything pressing research wise (although I could always find something research wise to do).
soon…

I’m now in a wait-for-something-to-happen mode. I need a distraction.

I’m looking to fill my week (weeks?) with activities I can’t do once Zippy arrives.

One option is to go see Brave. We’ve gone twice since I’ve entered the third trimester, once for the Hunger Games and once for The Avengers. Both times we went in the middle of the week, after the movie had been out for a month. The timing worked out great, we got a whole row to ourselves which meant I could easily make a bathroom run. Obviously, we won’t be waiting a month for this movie, but hopefully the theater won’t be too crowded on a weekday anyway. Going on a weekday also has other advantages. Using our regal crown card, there’s weekday discounts at the concession stand. Visa Signature is also doing a buy one, get one free movie ticket deal, but it’s for Fridays only so we won’t be able to take advantage of it.

Another possibility is the county fair. We’ve gone every year to look at the hand made crafts and photography. The plan was to skip this year because we were worried about the heat not mixing well with me being nine months pregnant, but so far the weather has been cooperating. Still, we’re planning on going on a weekday to avoid the crowds. It can be so busy on the weekend it’s hard to find a place to sit! They’re doing a promotional deal Tuesday, so that looks like a good day to me!

Zippy, we are ready and anxious to meet you!

May 31, 2012

Baby Gear Final Tally

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

I’ve made a big point in my blog about wanting the best for our baby, but at the best price possible. While I’m sure we’ll never be “done” with baby purchases, I used our registry completion code to finish getting everything that’s a top priority.

What We Have

For Sleeping: no

For Nursing:

For Sucking / Teething:
1 1

For Health and Grooming:
2 2

For Traveling with Baby:

For Diapering:

Toys And Activities:

Misc:
3

1. The teething toys we bought look identical to these, but they’re the bright starts brand. Our requirement for water/gel filled teethes is they need to be freezer safe. I don’t want to have to remember which ones can freeze when I’m sleep deprived and dealing with a cranky baby! I don’t believe the ones I linked to are freezer safe.
2. We purchased the blue & white hair brush and nail clippers in store, not the orange and white that I linked to.
3. We purchased two baby gates in white, not black.

We were also very fortunate to get baby blankets, board books and a nursing cover from friends and family. Thank you again for your generosity!

What We Still Need Or Are Still Considering

Three Wheeled Stroller – Like I said, we’re probably going to wait until the 2013 models come out to look for a deal on the 2012 models. We won’t need it until then anyway. I’ve been watching the sale fliers that come my way, if I see a good deal I may get one early.

Car Seat for Domingo’s Car – We’re going to get this for Domingo’s car once my maternity leave ends. We won’t need it until then. Our plan is to get a convertible car seat, rather than a second infant base. At the end of my maternity leave, we’ll have some experience with the infant seat to know whether that’s a good idea or not.

Mattress & Crib Sheets – I’ve been holding off on these until the crib is assembled, so I can be sure I’m getting the right size. I also want to feel the mattress firmness in person. The AAP suggests a firm mattress, and some mattresses that are labeled as “firm” don’t feel very firm to me. I’m also very picky about textures in sheets. I have a coupon for 20% off Babies R Us and it looks like I can apply it to mattresses, so there’s no harm in waiting.

Baby Bath Tub – Since I’m still undecided about this one, we’re passing in favor of sponge baths for now. I really like the folding, space saver tubs, but they’re a little steep for me price wise.

An infant carrier – I’m leaning towards a Moby Wrap, but the criticism of them is they can be warm. We’re heading into one of the warmest summers on record for our area (California) and expecting a June/July baby.

The Verdict

As you can see, we didn’t get a ton of baby gear. We decided if there was any question about whether we would use something, we would hold off on purchasing it. I’d rather get nicer things that we know we need, then baby gear that sits in a box for a year before being donated! Some items may seem like a really good idea, but be impractical in practice. (I mentioned in a couple of previous posts that some popular baby gear wouldn’t be practical for us given where we live and our current life style here and here.)

I’m pretty happy with what we got, and the prices we paid. I was able to find many sales for between 20-30% off, and I did score few things for over 40% off! Those big sales added up, which was great because some items are very hard to find on sale! Overall, I saved over 19%!

Sure, I could have done better. There were a couple of times I’d purchase something at the lowest price I’ve ever seen it, only to see it dip slightly lower a few months later. I estimated I overspent by about $50. But it would have required premonition to spend perfectly. And we are working against a clock. I didn’t want to hold off on a great deal on the possibility there’d be an awesome deal that never comes and find myself needing to paying retail.

The big question now, though, is did we get the right gear? Only time will tell.

Best advice I have:

* Start as early as possible. Our first purchase was on black Friday. (Well, actually we did buy a few onesies as soon as we found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t help myself!) Starting early meant we could spread out our purchases and wait for good deals, like on the breast pump. Some stores have annual or semi annual sales on certain categories of products. Babies R’ Us had a two day sale on activity gyms at one point, and I snagged the Lamaze Space Symphony Motion Gym for only $44 + $6 for shipping! (I could have saved myself that shipping charge if I was willing to drive 2 hours round trip to the nearest store that had the gyms in stock, but even I’m not that crazy.) If you give yourself enough time and can wait, you can snag a great deal. In fact, our average savings on items that retail for over $100? 21%!

* Once you know what you want, keep track of prices so you know when a deal is actually a deal. I got the skip hop pronto changing pad from Amazon Warehouse for $17.66. It was technically marked as opened box/damaged box, but still had the tags attached. A month later I noticed Amazon Warehouse selling another used one for $22.32, a 26% increase! And it’s not like it could have been in better condition.

* Shop around. I found the best prices for items under $10 was usually Target. Even Target’s regular price typically beat everyone else’s price with a registry completion discount. Amazon had really good every day prices on big ticket items, but you can usually beat them with a 20% off coupon at Buy Buy Baby. (Of course, you only get so many Buy Buy Baby coupons in a year!)

What tactics weren’t as useful for getting great deals:

* The google alerts seemed like such a good idea, but they never triggered. It may be my fault. Maybe I didn’t include the right words to trigger on. Still, I was disappointed.

* I didn’t end up doing as much second hand shopping as I initially expected. Even the onesies (which half came from the clearance rack!) ended up all being brand new. I think I prefer outlet/clearance shopping to consignment/second hand, anyway. I did shop the Amazon Warehouse, since they had a great return policy, but I didn’t buy much from them. Their items were so gently used that most of their prices are typically only discounted 10-15%, but they occasional have some really great deals. Be sure to check the item condition before making a purchase!

* Don’t wait too long on items that are trending. Once something becomes popular, expect the price to go up and stay up. There were a couple toys I was considering, like the Ocean Wonders Soothe or Sophie the Giraffe, but the price kept creeping up. Once I know I missed a good deal, I get frustrated and no longer want to purchase the product. I plan to keep my price watch active, in case the price dips again. There’s always this year’s Black Friday!

* Registration completion discounts kindda suck. Not only was the discount low in comparison (only 10% compared to those 20-30% deals), but if you return anything you lose the entire discount! Actually, this isn’t uncommon with this type of coupon that applies to your entire cart, but it’s still annoying. You need to be absolutely sure you are only purchasing what you want. This means if you’re ordering crib sheets you need to be sure they will fit your mattress, and if you’re ordering a mattress you need to be sure it will fit your crib. I still love lists, and the registry was worth it to keep me organized! In the future, though, I won’t rely on the completion discount as much.

April 30, 2012

List Overload

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

I love lists. Really I do. But my Pre-Baby To Do list is giving me heart palpitations. How is it we still have this much left to do?! Despite my panic, this was actually a pretty good weekend baby wise.

I scheduled the last of our pregnancy classes and our hospital tour of Labor and Delivery unit for next week. I’ve been holding off organizing my hospital bag until the tour, since I don’t know what they provide, and what they recommend I bring for myself and for zippy. In the gold old days hospitals use to get free samples from baby manufactures that they gave out to new moms. I’ve heard stories of free Halo SleepSack and nasal aspirators a couple years ago. Jealous! I’m not sure what we can expect in this economy, but I think they still have things like pacifiers, since the hospital keeps those on hand for the new babies anyway. After the tour we’ll go to a drug store and pick up a bunch of little things like a hair brush, first aid supplies, etc. I’ve found for this category of gear, local drug stores beat baby stores and online retailers. You have less choices, but how many choices do you need for a baby hair brush anyway?

We will have to skip the birthing class, since it doesn’t fit our schedule. The class is being offered only twice more before I’m due. The first is this Friday/Saturday, with Saturday being a full seven hours! It’s so last minute, that even if I put off all the things we need to do next weekend (and we were hoping to cross of quite a bit from our to-do list), I’m not sure we can be squeezed in. The class will be offered again a few days before Zippy’s due. Even if Zippy comes late, I’m not sure I’ll be up to sitting through 9 hours of pregnancy classes at 9 months pregnant! The good news is, of the classes that we were planning to take, I was most inclined to skip this one. At the hospital we’ll be surrounded by Doctors and nurses who know what they are doing and can tell us what to do. I also don’t feel totally unprepared. There’s also a lot of information online about breathing techniques, and what to expect. Our hospital also has a labor video that I’ve already watched. The other classes, breastfeeding and new born care, will help us learn what to do when we’re on our own. The birth is also one day, where we will be carrying for a nursing a newborn a lot longer!

We purchased a rocker for the nursery. We went with a rocker/recliner from JCPenney because it was so amazingly comfortable. I could spend hours a day in that chair (and I’m sure I will once zippy comes!). It seemed superior to the comparably priced ones at BabiesRUs and BuyBuyBaby, and JCPenney included free shipping. I was also able to get 20% off by opening a new charge card, so it was a great deal. I know – opening a new line of credit isn’t completely without cost, as it comes with a credit hit – but the temporary hit is worth it.

We also got the Motorola Video Baby Monitor from BuyBuyBaby using a 20% off coupon. It wasn’t until after I purchased it that I realized this particular unit doesn’t support a second parent device. (My fault – I didn’t do enough consumer research). We could have done a monitor with several parent devices if I was willing to give up video or willing to spend a lot more, both of which I was unwilling to do, so we would have ended up with the same monitor anyway.

Next we got a Dishwasher Basket for under $4 for Target as a spur of the moment decision. We were looking at the pacifiers and it suddenly occurred to me that we needed a way to clean them. If pacifiers end up not being dishwasher safe, I’m sure I can find a use for the tray (like cleaning my Wilton decorating tips or the corn on the cob grips). I went with blue, since I dislike hot pink and neon green. If I ever work up the courage to spend $50 for a bathtub, I will get the Blooming Bath in blue as well for the same reason.

So now we can clean baby’s (non existent) pacifiers, have a spot to clean her bottom (we still need diapers, wipes, etc), a spot for her to sleep and the technology to watch her as she does. It’s progress!

While we haven’t bought it yet, we did make a decision regarding strollers. We settled on the City Mini Stroller, since it’s easier and more comfortable for me than the other brands. Currently the Infant Car Seat Adaptor is actually more costly than the Single Snap N’ Go Stroller, so we’re planning on getting the Snap-N-Go. I’m just waiting for my registry completion coupon to make the purchase. If we get the Snap-N-Go, I might wait on the City Mini until the end of the year, when the city mini 2013 models come out. We won’t have use for the City Mini until then anyway, and if I wait I can get this year’s model at a discount! Double win!

Lastly – and I’m so proud of myself for this – I sent out thank you cards. A couple close friends and family members surprised us with gifts last weekend at my sister’s wedding, including some very nice handmade blankets. I was so bad with thank you cards after our wedding (they went out almost six months after!) so this time I thought I would send them out right away. It’s much easier to write four than forty.

April 8, 2012

Cheap Baby Gear Fail

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

One of the baby items I was interested in was the Gunapod Sleepsack. It seemed super warm and fuzzy for a winter time visit to the east coast. But my mom convinced me that $35 dollars for an item that will be used for at most one week is overkill.

Recently I was wondering around Amazon Warehouse and noticed the same sleep sack for $10 dollars! In the right size and color I wanted too. Score! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Amazon’s warehouse, it’s a place for gently used items. The sleep sack description said it was ‘like new’ (which according to Amazon means it should appear new) and that the box was damaged so it couldn’t be sold as ‘new’. I have no problem with second hand items, especially for things that can be thrown in the washing machine for a few iterations. So even if it was worn by another baby, it’s not a big deal to me.

So I added the sleep sack to my cart, and decided to look around for something else to get the free shipping. I figured with all of the baby gear we need, I’d find something that was also a decent deal. I was also meeting friends this weekend, so I didn’t have time to spend too much time online shopping. Waiting was a mistake. Two days later and the sleep sack is no longer available. Drat! So if you want something off of Amazon Warehouse, don’t wait to purchase it.

Amazon Warehouse is probably not worth it for some items if you have a registry and will get the 10% discount completion code. Most products seem to be discounted around 12-13%. So you’re only saving an additional 2-3% for a product that’s used instead of something new. I’m cheap, but I don’t know if I’m that cheap for an extra 3% savings. The gunapod was an exception. In addition to being significantly marked down, it wasn’t sold through Amazon but through a third party, it wasn’t eligible for the completion discount. That’s probably why it went so fast.

As for me, I will continue to go back and see if the gunapod is available. But my mom’s right, the winters aren’t cold enough here in California, and it’s silly to pay full price on an item I know will be rarely used.

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

Long before we decided to start our family, I started researching baby products. Our house has a surprising lack of storage space, and I didn’t want to add to the clutter with a bunch of rarely used baby gear! We’re also not planning on a shower, so it was extra important for us to save whenever we could. I want the best for our baby and my philosophy is to spend as little as possible on the things I want.

I started by picking up a copy of Baby Bargains. I have mixed feelings on the book. On the one hand, it has a great philosophy of focusing on your life style and getting the gear that matches it. Have a small house or an apartment? Then you don’t need a baby monitor with a large range. What I didn’t realize was the copy I picked up was already a couple of years out dated. The prices the book mentioned did not match up with current MSRP, (in some cases they were as much as 30% off in either direction!), and the book didn’t have any reviews of current trendy products. Overall I thought the book was useful, but make sure you get the latest edition. (BTW, the one I linked to is the 2011 edition, which is the most current as the time of this post.)

Next, I created a registry – yes, before even trying for a baby. As I’ve mentioned before, I love lists. Our baby registry, just like our wedding registry, is constantly evolving. I’ll start by adding the basics – a car seat, a stroller, etc. But some products are more compatible with each other than others. Once I identify a stroller I like, I may switch the infant car seat for one that is compatible with the stroller without the need to purchase a conversion kit. Or, maybe I’ll opt for a swing that can double as a bouncer so I don’t need two. I read a few blogs of women who had already started a family, and whenever something struck me as a good idea for our baby, I’d add it to the registry. Similarly, if I start reading bad reviews for a product, off the registry it goes. Working on the registry a little bit at a time also helped keep me from getting overwhelmed. At this point I’ve replaced most items on the registry, and I’m a lot happier with the new list.

Next I set up an account with camelcamelcamle.com. Camel Camel Camel is a website that tracks price fluctuations on Amazon, as well as a few other sites. Most products on amazon have some price fluctuations, even books. I imported our registry and could see a price history of each product. If a product is usually 30% off, and only 20% off on a given day, it’s not a good sale! Camel Camel Camel will also alert you if the price drops below a threshold you can specify. For products that I can wait for, such as specific Dr. Seuss books or winter sleep sacks for a June baby, I set the threshold to be the lowest price I’ve seen. That way I’m sure I get a great deal. If I know I’ll need something right away, I’ll be a little less stingy and look for a good deal, not the best deal. I also keep in mind that other retailers have stable prices and reliable coupons (like babiesrus.com and buybuybaby.com). If the amazon price doesn’t beat buybuybaby’s price with a 20% off coupon, it’s not worth purchasing! My Camel Camel Camel price watch list has more than just my registry items. In some cases where I am indifferent between two brands, I add both products to my price watch list. I figure which ever one gives me the best price first is the one I’ll go with.

Camel Camel Camel does have some limitations. It currently doesn’t factor in the cost of shipping for third party products. There’s one item on my registry that’s $22 some days, and $16.50 others. Seems like a great deal, right? Except that shipping is free when it’s $22, and $4.95 when it’s $16.50, making the actual savings a whopping 55 cents. When a product is available in multiple colors from multiple sellers, Camel Camel Camel seems to get confused as to which version is being offered for which price. Despite the limitations, camel camel camel is great, and has already helped me score some great deals!

I also added a free price check app on my iphone. The app scans the bar code and lets me know what the price is at Amazon. When I’m out at a store, and a baby swing is listed as “on sale” I can find out what whether or not it’s a good sale. I’m always wary of ‘sale’ signs, as there is some evidence of companies markup up the price before a sale to make a sale price seem like a better deal.

Lastly, there are a few items that I am interested in, but that do not normally go on sale via big box stores, so I can’t watch for them on camel camel camel or normal coupon sites. For these products I set up google alerts for the product name and the words ‘sale’ and ‘discount’. That way, if there’s a possibility of a deal, I’ll hopefully see it before the deal period expires.

After re-reading my post it sounds like I’ve buying most of my baby gear through Amazon. I’m not. In fact, of all the things I’ve purchased so far, only one item came from Amazon, and that ended up not being a very good deal afterall. The rest I got as great sales from Target. Amazon’s every day prices tend to bet Target’s, but so far Target has had better sales. We stocked up on Dr. Seuss books for $5 a book, and got a deluxe rock n’ play for the standard rock n’ play price.

November 25, 2011

Black Friday 2011 Recap

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

As predicted, Black Friday was largely a bust for us. We did snag a couple of good deals – new sheets, that dust buster (although not as cool as the Dyson Hand Vac), a Christmas present or two. According to the receipts it’s an average savings of 56% (of course that’s an over estimate.)

No TV. I just wasn’t blown away by any of the deals, and the lack luster deals just didn’t motivate me to spend any money. There will be more sales in anticipation of the Super bowl, so maybe then we’ll take the plunge. I had very low energy today (I’ve been a little under the weather) which prevented us from going out most of the day, which lead us to an interesting discovery.

One of the things I was interested in was a camcorder. I love my camera, but wanted to also be able to take video. Both Amazon and BestBuy had the Sony HD Camcorder for the same sale online. While Amazon’s had free shipping, BestBuy had in store pickup. The only other difference between the two is the color, BestBuy’s version is dark blue were Amazon’s camcorder is black. Amazon’s deal was available as a lightening deal this evening, and sold out immediately. In fact, it looked like it was gone as soon as it became available!) BestBuy’s deal was available all day and still is according to their website.

While I can believe color would matter (I prefer black to dark blue myself) and shipping is more convenient than in store pick up, it’s hard for me to imagine the Amazon deal being that much more preferred than the BestBuy one! Or that someone who missed out on the Amazon deal wouldn’t settle for the BestBuy one. The only two explanations I can think of is that maybe it’s a matter of inventory or consumer reach. If Amazon’s stock was dwarfed by BestBuy’s, maybe everyone who wanted a camcorder got one, and BestBuy still has some extras. On the other hand, maybe some consumers don’t know about the BestBuy deal, or live too far away from a BestBuy to pick one up. Still, it seems odd to me that Amazon’s deal would be gone in seconds, when BestBuy’s deal has been available all day.

Regardless, shopping at home was easy and convenient. It was also fun with the dual laptop’s going (me on mine, D on his) trying to score those lightening deals. I am sure we will continue to do more black Friday shopping from the comfort of our couch in the years to come.

I will be interested when the final Black Friday are published, that’s for sure!

November 6, 2011

Our Black Friday Strategy

We have a strategy we employee every black Friday for the past few years, and no it does not involve waiting in line all night or getting up pre dawn, or even fighting massive crowds. I hate crowds, cold, and lack of sleep. Instead our strategy starts super early and involves a lot of advance planning, with very little lifting on the actual day.

Know the Season. It starts earlier and earlier. There are targeted “Black Friday” like sales throughout the months of October and November. I tend to wait for sales for most purchases, but starting in September I hold off on most major purchases. Anything that we don’t need right away and a possible candidate for a Black Friday goes on a Black Friday wish list. Best candidates for black Friday sales: electronics – especially video game related, or digital picture frames, TVs, VCRs, personal laptops, cameras, both point and shoot and DSLR camera bodies and kits, etc – winter clothing, household items, kitchen appliances.

This year I’ve been holding off on a new dust buster. Ours is functional, but we generally need to do a couple passes to pick up all the dirt. As long as it doesn’t die, I refuse to replace it until the sale is right.

Plan in Advance. The list helps me stick to a plan, and keeps me from being overwhelemed. The items on the list are the things we need, so these are the things I will search for. I use pre-Black Friday announcements to find stores offering discounts on the things I want. I keep track of multiple stores per item, since I adamantly refuse to wait in line in the cold over night, sometimes the door busters are gone by the time I am ready to shop. Our goal is to find great deals – not necessarily the best possible.

The Day Of. After waking up from our tryptophan induced sleep we start with a hardy brunch. Most of the diehard black Friday enthusiasts are winding down, and heading home to nap. At this point, anything deal that hasn’t already sold out, is not likely to in the next couple of hours, so we don’t feel particularly rushed. Shopping on a full stomach after a full night of sleep is so much more pleasant.

Be Persistent. Just because the door busters are gone at one target, doesn’t mean they’re gone at another. We’ve been surprised at how one store will be completely out of an item, and another store not five miles away still has all their’s stock. If there’s something you really want, don’t give up. Try multiple places. Remember some stores will price match. So if Target is out of dyson vaccum cleaners, you may still get your deal by taking the sales flyer to Best Buy.

Evening/Two Day Deals Both Target and Walmart do a “two-day” black Friday. This means they hold off on some merchandise to put out for Saturday. Last year we were in Target around midnight Friday, when they were bringing out pallets for the next day. We scored both a crockpot and a toaster from Target, simply by being in the right place at the right time.

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