Holiday Shopping Shortcuts & My Black Friday Rant.

I'm one of those people who shop year-round for presents. I'm also one of those people who happen to love Thanksgiving. It's the one holiday where the focus is on family, friends and being, well, thankful.

I'm not sure what it says about us, as human beings, when we decide to bury a holiday of gratitude to pursue one of pure commercialism. Well, I DO know what it says about us, as human beings, but I don't like it. If you plan to shop on Thanksgiving day, I want you to remove all the "self help" art from the walls in your home, especially anything that has the word 'gratitude' in it. 

I'm a savvy shopper and have had more than a few request for websites, apps and tricks I use throughout the year. I keep it simple and the list small, so before I list my information I want to take a moment to acknowledge the "Big Box" stores that will be closed on Thanksgiving Day 2015 so their employees can spend time with their family, whether they want to or not. 

  • Babies-R-Us
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Burlington
  • Cabela’s
  • Dillard’s
  • D.S.W.
  • GameStop
  • H&M
  • Half Price Books
  • Harbor Freight
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Home Depot
  • Lowe’s
  • Marshalls
  • Mattress Firm
  • Nordstrom
  • Pier 1 Imports
  • Petco
  • Sam’s Club
  • Staples
  • T.J. Maxx
  • Tractor Supply Co.
  • Williams-Sonoma Home

These stores will get priority with my holiday spending. 

Here's my list of what I fondly call "Angela's little helpers":

  •  Brad's Deals - My friend, Brittany, introduced me to this site a few years ago, after she bought 3 round-trip airline tickets from Indianapolis - Atlanta for $49 EACH RT TICKET for a trade show we were doing just before Thanksgiving a few years ago. She earned her tiara for savings queen and has yet to be de-throned. Brad's Deals is a daily e-mail that gathers the best daily deals from around the web in an easy, clickable, email. It gathers everything from daily essentials like toilet paper and laundry detergent to appliances to jewelry. Literally everything. Has an app.
  • Brad's Deals Black Friday - Just like the original, but dedicated to Black Friday deals only. All the Black Friday inserts can be previewed here. Has an app. 
  • Coupon Mom - I didn't grow up in a 'couponing' household. Ironically, in my 20-some years in the advertising/marketing industry I understood their purpose from a new product launch/trial perspective. I just never had the time to actually use them. In fact, less than 2% of coupons are redeemed.  In January of 2014 I was snowed in for a few days. Since I couldn't get out of my driveway I decided to have a TLC Extreme Couponing marathon. I had never watched the show before but was fascinated and thought, "Hey- I can do this"...on a much smaller scale. A word of warning on this one - it takes some time to set up and get the hang of it.  I would HIGHLY suggest watching the tutorial. Every week Coupon Mom matches up store sales with electronic and paper coupons to show you what products have the greatest savings. In a nutshell, you are purchasing products you use consistently when they are at the lowest price, instead of when you run out of them. I use this system only at Target and purchase mainly non-food items. I don't shop at chain grocery stores (I eat a whole food/limited ingredient diet), but they are listed as well. 
  • Cartwheel by Target App - Brilliant. I love this app. I love Target. It was introduced in May 2013. I began using it in November of 2013 (our 2-year anniversary is coming up) and have saved exactly $416.32 with very little effort on my part. It's simple. Target gives you 10 or so spots and you load them with what YOU want to save on that shopping trip. You can earn badges to get more spots, and more savings. During the holidays, Target usually does a 'deal of the day' type promotion with Cartwheel. Every day something is 50% off or more. If you have little ones, this is a lifesaver/budget saver. 
  • Target REDcard™ - Love this card. The REDcard™ works exactly like my bank debit card. It's not a credit card, it connects directly with my bank account (bring your checkbook when you apply so they can get the routing & account numbers). Here's why I love this card - not only do I save 5% just for using it to pay for my purchase, but the 5% I pay goes to help a school of my choice (you choose your school online). 

Now THAT'S the spirit of the season!


Photo: Public Domain