5 Places to Shop for Novelty Gifts You’ll Feel Good About Buying

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For lots of people, holiday shopping consists of frantically running through the crowded aisles at Target, Walmart, T.J.Maxx, Macy’s and Best Buy — or typing things like “gifts for Mom” into the Amazon search field. And while they spend a good deal of time and effort shopping (and stressing), the outcome is all too often a load of generic products from big-box stores and a generous helping of conspicuous consumers’ guilt.

Sound familiar?

If you’re looking to break that pattern, there are lots of places where you can find holiday gifts that will stand out among all the other “stuff.” Here, we rounded up some noteworthy retailers and brand websites you could explore for interesting, unusual gifts, based on the personality of the person you’re shopping for.

A plus: You can feel good about spending money in these places because someone else will benefit from your dime.

For the sassy and quirky

A screenshot of the BlueQ website.

BlueQ is the place to buy a gift for someone with a good sense of humor. The Pittsfield, Mass.-based novelty gift manufacturer was founded in 1988, and its self-described mission is simple: “We just want you to be happy.”

From colorful stocks to quirky reusable handbags, and tin boxes to oven mitts, almost every item sold at BlueQ features a sassy phrase combined with edgy, vintage imagery. Want a taste?

I’m not bossy; I’m the boss” on an oven mitt.

House rule: Be nice, or leave” on a magnet.

Busy making a f–king difference” on a sock.

Nutcase” on a pocket box.

Always be yourself unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn” on a pack of gums.

Why we like it

Fun stuff doesn’t need to be costly. The price range for the goods is from $1.80 to $15.

The joy-bringing gift shop donates 1 percent of the sales of its socks to Doctors Without Borders and 1 percent of oven mitt and dish towel sales to hunger relief programs throughout the world. Another 1 percent, this from profit selling recycled purses and bags — made from 95 percent post-consumer goods — goes to support international environmental initiatives. BlueQ also employs people with disabilities to assemble its products.

Where to shop

You can order from BlueQ’s website, and many bookstores and gift shops carry BlueQ’s items. Find a store near you here.

For the creative and ethically conscious

A screenshot of the Uncommongoods website.

Uncommongoods is a marketplace for artists and crafters from across the world to sell independently designed, often fair-traded and hand-crafted products. To name a few:

Handwoven baskets from Rwanda

Cardboard iPad TV stands

Glass Zipper Bags

Why we like it

The company values sustainability as a business and a product distributor. Many the items sold on its website are made of recycled materials. Customers can choose a nonprofit organization that partners with Uncommongoods to give $1 with every order.

A team of buyers not only evaluates goods based on materials and function, but also cares where each design comes from, how it’s made and who made it, according to the shop’s website.

During the peak winter months, when Uncommongoods hires hundreds of seasonal workers, the company says it pays its lowest paid hourly worker 100 percent more than minimum wage.

To make your shopping experience easier, Uncommongoods has a search engine for gift suggestions for your loved ones, letting you filter different personalities and hobbies.

Where to shop

Uncommongoods is an online-only marketplace: https://www.uncommongoods.com/

For the indie foodie

A screenshot of the Mouth website.

Mouth is a paradise for your foodie friends and family. The company prides itself on producing interesting, indie, small-batch foods. You can buy your friends specialty eats from 40 states, and learn about the people who made the food you purchase here.

Why we like it

You won’t find convenience-store staples like Doritos or Hershey’s on Mouth. Most of the foods that Mouth sources are either handmade at local stores or workshops across the country, or come from brands started as homemade concoctions, according to its website. You would be supporting small, local businesses by purchasing treats that match your friends’ tastes. For ingredients that cannot be sourced domestically, such as coffee and chocolate, the company makes sure they are fair-traded and organic.

While Mouth is dedicated to selling treats that are made in an environmentally friendly, relatively healthier way, it by no means claims that everything on its website is good for you. But Mouth promises that its foods are not full of chemicals, preservatives or unhealthy fats.

Where to shop

You can browse snacks online at https://www.mouth.com/.

For the literary and intellectual

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Independent stores tend to have a rich history and offer diverse specialty books depending on the theme of the store and its location. Chicago’s Women and Children First, for instance, opened in a modest storefront in 1979 and is one of the country’s biggest feminist bookstores — it would be a great place to shop for someone passionate about supporting women. Sales from Indy Reads Books in Indianapolis support a nonprofit dedicated to improving adult literacy, and a book from there could be a meaningful gift for a philanthropic friend.

Why we like them

Apart from offering personalized services, specialized book selections and a platform for literary gatherings, many local bookshops are increasingly carrying gift items — pins, mugs, T-shirts, cards — consistent with the history or theme of the store.

If you have bookworms on your shopping list, pick a book from their favorite author or a souvenir from the shop they loyally frequent. This is a great way to support small businesses.

Where to find independent bookstores

You can use this guide to find a local independent bookstore near you.

For the artsy and modern

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Museum gift shops are stocked with fine-art-inspired collectibles — not just totes or posters. Gift shop items often embody the very best design principles in a form of functionality or art.

Depending on where you are and what types of art you like, you can find prints, office stationery, books, dining sets, home furniture, apparel and more from the country’s art museums or through their websites

Why we like them

The gift shop is usually a critical revenue generator for a nonprofit museum, according to the State Department Bureau of International Information Programs. So when you buy a Monet umbrella or an American Gothic magnet while visiting a museum, you’re showing your support. If you are a member of a particular museum, you can often get a discount. And the purchase is likely to be appreciated by your art-loving friends.

Where to shop

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Met Store has some of the best art book selections. It is now offering a 25 percent discount on select holiday ornaments, Christmas cards and calendars.

The Art Institute of Chicago: The Art Institute is America’s second-largest art museum after the Met in New York. It is best known for Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art collections. The collectibles at the gift shop well represent the museum’s masterpieces.

Museum of Modern Art: The MoMA in New York has an outstanding history with design. In 1932, the museum established the world’s first curatorial department devoted to architecture and design. The MoMA Design Store features a vast range of modern and innovative design objects. It is currently offering 20 percent off on 100 gift items.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: The SFMOMA gift store offers an impressive selection of modern and contemporary art books. Apart from that, you can order gallery-quality reproductions of artworks that are often exclusive to the museum, through its website.

The post 5 Places to Shop for Novelty Gifts You’ll Feel Good About Buying appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

7 Ways to Protect Yourself as You Shop for the Holidays

Here are nine ways to protect yourself while shopping this holiday season.

The holiday season is an enormous economic event, so much so that the National Retail Federation estimates that holiday shopping represents as much as 30% of a retailer’s annual sales. But as a consumer, increased spending can leave you more vulnerable to theft and fraud.

However, there are steps you can take to guard against theft. Here are seven ways to protect yourself as you shop for the holidays.

1. Pay with a Credit Card

Stolen cash isn’t easily recovered, and a thief could use your debit card to empty your bank account. Credit cards offer better protection.

Even if your card is stolen, federal law dictates that you can’t be held liable for more than $50 in charges. That liability drops to $0 if you report the card’s loss before fraudulent charges occur or if it’s your card number, not your physical card, that was stolen. Many credit card issuers will automatically waive the $50 no matter the scenario.

2. Use a Virtual Card Number Online

Some credit card companies offer virtual card numbers, which can keep your information safe as you shop online. These temporary 16-digit numbers are linked to your account, but allow you to set predetermined spending limits and an expiration date. If a thief gets ahold of your virtual number, your exposure is limited and you won’t have to go through the hassle of canceling and replacing your card.

There are third-party virtual card providers out there if your credit card company doesn’t offer this service, but their quality may vary and they will require you to sign up for a separate service.

3. Protect Your Account Logins 

Your accounts are only as strong as your password. Use different passwords for every account; this way, if one of your passwords is compromised, your other accounts will still be safe. Many online retailers (including Amazon) now offer two-factor authentication, which gives you an additional layer of security when you login. 

4. Shop with One Account

It’s more difficult to track your spending when you use multiple credit cards or bank accounts. You should limit your holiday shopping to one account, which makes it easier for you to identify unauthorized charges.

5. Shop at Secure Websites

Be careful about the websites you visit. You should only make purchases at trustworthy retailers. Also, check for the secure padlock icon and an “https” at the beginning of the retailer’s web address, both of which indicate that the site is encrypted. This makes it more difficult for hackers to steal your information.

6. Monitor Your Accounts

You should be closely monitoring charges on your account all year long. While many financial institutions now offer account monitoring, their systems aren’t foolproof. Make sure to carefully read over your monthly statements to identify unauthorized charges.

7. Monitor Your Credit Report

Credit card numbers are replaceable, but if thieves get hold of really important information—like Social Security numbers, birthdates, and addresses—you could become a victim of identity theft. Check your credit report regularly to make sure no one is opening fraudulent accounts in your name. You can see your credit report for free at Credit.com.

Image: Eva-Katalin

The post 7 Ways to Protect Yourself as You Shop for the Holidays appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Mistakes People Make With Their Credit During the Winter

Here are some common credit mistakes people make during the winter.

No matter what seasonal holidays your family celebrates, we’re definitely in the festive season right now — it tends to start with Halloween and ends on January 1.

Over the last month or so, we’ve filled our pantries for Thanksgiving, hit the stores for Black Friday, and stocked up on gifts and food for Christmas or other family celebrations. (Not to mention all the pageants, concerts, get-togethers and parties that come with the season.)

During this time of year, many people get focused on gift giving and accidentally make these four credit mistakes, As we head into the home stretch, here are some not-so-smart spending behaviors to flag.

1. Overspending

‘Tis the season for giving, but some people give so much that they hurt themselves financially by spending more on their credit cards than they can pay back. That $25 gift for a friend that you thought you were getting a good deal on can suddenly cost $40 (or more!) once interest and fees are added onto an unpaid credit card. So be sure in these last few shopping days to stick to your budget. It’s okay to put things on your credit card … as long as you can pay off your credit card right away. (You can see how your holiday shopping has affected your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

2. Not Watching for Fraud

There’s a lot of shopping this time of year – it starts with Halloween candy and costumes for the kids and ends with champagne for a New Years Eve celebration (and maybe a gym membership to go along with your 2017 resolution). Along the way, you’ve probably had your credit card in hand fairly often – shopping for a turkey for Thanksgiving or angling for a great deal on Black Friday or Boxing Day. With all that extra credit card use, it’s important to stay vigilant and monitor your credit card statements carefully for fraudulent charges. Also, be sure to report them to your issuer immediately to have the charges reversed and your card replaced.

3. Lending a Credit Card

If your spouse is running out to pick up some last-minute fixings for the annual family get-together, or maybe some stocking stuffers for the kids, it might be tempting to hand off your credit card to them if they don’t have their own. However, this common mistake can prove costly for so many people every year, because while your family member might be very trustworthy, a simple mistake of leaving behind a credit card they’re not used to carrying could lead to fraud. (Something else that’s important to note: Lending your credit card to someone else, though it isn’t illegal, could put you in violation of your card agreement and make it harder to reverse the charges made while the plastic was out of your hands. You can learn more about how this works here.)

4. Putting Your Credit Review on Hold

I always recommend reviewing your credit report at least twice a year — or even quarterly. But this season can be so busy that people will often put their good habits and responsibilities on hold so they can focus on the turkey, decorations, costumes and shopping that needs to be done. However, skipping a credit report check just once a year (especially during the holidays) can set you back dramatically and make it that much harder to check and clean up your report in the spring. (Remember, you can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com.)

Image: svetikd

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How to Have a ‘Financial Talk’ With Your Spouse Over the Holidays

Here are three tips for how to talk to your spouse about money problems over the holidays.

Approximately 31% of all couples have arguments over their finances at least once a month, according to an Ameriprise study. While this may be true, the real issue at hand is that you may not be having a financial conversation with your partner, especially during the holiday season. This could cause unwanted stress, and lack of communication could potentially damage your relationship in the future.

Here are some steps to get you started and help you avoid financial conflict in the new year.

1. Initiate the Conversation With Confidence

You might want to sit down with your spouse or partner over coffee to review your holiday spending plans to avoid a “debt hangover” after the holidays. Talking about finances can be difficult, so it is important to speak in a relaxed environment. Review one another’s numbers, accounting for how much each of you intends to spend this year and on whom. You may want to take a look at receipts from last year as a point of reference and go from there. You might even want to start the conversation by addressing your partner’s strengths with money and how much you appreciate all that they do for you financially (i.e.: paying the bills every month or helping out around the house).

2. Discuss Your Goals

Talk to your spouse about the pros and cons of saving money together instead of overspending on nonessential items and gifts over the holidays. You might even want to bring up how you would like to save up for a future goal together. If you or your partner continues to overspend, that goal may never be reached. You could even have a little fun with it and create a savings jar. Just fill it up until you reach your goal! (Curious about where your finances stand? You can view two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

3. Come Up With a Plan

Create a holiday budget together, and consider writing down whom you plan to buy for and how much you plan to spend on each person. Once you have ideas on what you want to buy and how much you plan to spend for each person, make sure you do your research by comparison shopping. This might mean shopping online rather than in store, taking advantage of special store sales and clipping coupons.

You might also want to designate roles for you and your partner to take in the holiday shopping process where one of you is responsible for finding sales while the other takes care of the actual shopping. If you plan to shop as a team, you may not only save money but spend quality time together that makes the experience much more fun and enjoyable.

Image: svetikd

The post How to Have a ‘Financial Talk’ With Your Spouse Over the Holidays appeared first on Credit.com.

14 Last-Minute Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Here are 14 last-minute gifts for everyone on your list.

Image: Geber86

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9 Ways to Protect Your Credit While Holiday Shopping

Here are nine ways to protect yourself while shopping this holiday season.

The holiday shopping season isn’t just a favorite time for retailers, but also for scammers who are hoping to take advantage of all that extra spending you’re doing.

That’s why I want to urge you to use caution this year. It’s easy to be focused on trying to find everything on your list and miss some of the risky behaviors you might be engaging in.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself this holiday season.

1. Carry just one credit card with you and leave the rest at home. That way, you’ll minimize the risk if your wallet or purse is stolen.

2. Only shop at well-known stores. “Pop-up” stores are becoming increasingly popular, especially in major urban centers, but these stores may not always be legitimate, or they may not have the best payment security.

3. Cover your PIN when paying with your card so others can’t see it.

4. If shopping online, make sure the website is secure and provides a level of security and authenticity for your purchases.

5. Don’t lend your credit card to a family or friend. You may trust them, but you lose control of your card and if it’s stolen, it will be YOUR credit that could be affected.

6. Review charges while still in a store. It’s so easy to accidentally turn a $10.00 charge into a $100.00 charge.

7. Be cautious when filling out forms, such as those for home delivery, extended warranties, rain checks, etc. These forms contain a lot of personal information that can easily be used by a scammer or identity thief. Ensure that the form is received by a store employee.

8. Keep all receipts for every purchase you make. When your credit card statement arrives, sit down and go line by line through each purchase, comparing the purchase on the statement with your receipts. This seemingly daunting task will not take as long as you think it will, and your credit will benefit, since too much debt can hurt your credit scores.

9. Never spend more than you can immediately pay back. Even if the deal is really good, you’ll lose the benefit of the discount if you can’t pay off your credit card before you are charged interest, so set a budget.

The holidays can be a lot of fun and a good opportunity to get some deals, but make sure to follow these tips so you come out ahead and your credit is protected.

[Editor’s note: Regularly checking your credit scores can help you recognize quickly if you’ve been a victim of fraud. That’s because your scores can be vulnerable to major spending changes. You can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.]

Image: Eva-Katalin

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8 Things to Buy After Thanksgiving

buy-after-thanksgiving

When it comes to shopping, the days and weeks after Thanksgiving are unparalleled.

You have the twin massive discount days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You have the seasonal Fall items going on massive sale to make way for the holidays. And you have discounts on things people might buy that aren’t necessarily linked to the holidays, like appliances and other capital equipment, because stores need to make room for next year’s models. Finally, the winter is the “off season” for so many things and buying in the off season can help you save a lot of money.

Here’s a list of things you should buy after Thanksgiving.

1. Electronics

The key to winning Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) is watching the circulars as they are leaked and doing some serious comparison-shopping. High-ticket electronics from brands you recognize like tablets, computers, and video game consoles from Sony, Microsoft, Apple, and more, will all tout mega-deals, the weekend after Thanksgiving. But remember, it’s best not to get carried away gorging on the great deals that pan out because it might leave you needing money closer to the holidays!

2. Leftover Thanksgiving Decorations

Thanksgiving will happen in just 52 short weeks but all those Thanksgiving-themed decorations, and many of the Autumn-themed decorations, will be deeply discounted as stores look to get rid of stock. If you’ve wanted an orange and red wreath or an Autumn-inspired centerpiece, now is the time to start snagging them because in a few short days they’ll be gone.

3. Live Christmas Trees

One sneaky good thing to buy right after Thanksgiving is live Christmas trees. Many live tree sellers will discount them initially to start moving some of their stock and then start selling them at regular price as Christmas draws near. They won’t start discounting them again until it’s time for the procrastinators to buy.

4. Big Ticket Appliances

Stores will discount large appliances as we near the end of the year to clear inventory for newer models. You can expect to see sales on refrigerators, washers, dryers and other large appliances around this time. If you are getting rid of an old appliance, you may find your local utility will haul it away for you or even pay you for them.

5. Cars

Late November is a fortuitous time for a car buyer. As the end of the year draws closer, sales people are thinking about hitting their annual quotas and willing to make deals to move cars. The next model year will have been released near the end of the summer, so previous model years that are still around in November have been sitting for a long time. The confluence of those factors makes late November and December a prime time to strike a deal.

(If you are thinking about buying a car, it’s important to check your credit since a good score will help you qualify for a better interest rate. You can view two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

6. Recreational Vehicles

The same logic for cars also works with recreational vehicles (RVs) but even more so. The winter months are also the slowest in the RV business. People hunker down for the winter and aren’t thinking about making cross-country trips — dealers will still want to sell vehicles.

7. Cookware

Cookware will be discounted because a lot of people will be cooking and entertaining, which means a lot of people will discover their cookware needs an upgrade. Retailers know this so, to win over their share of the market, they will entice shoppers with great deals around this time.

8. Tools

Tools make great gifts and retailers will often offer some fantastic deals on cheap tools. It’s a great time to pick up a tool you’ve always needed for that last project on the list but never had the heart to pay full price for.

You can save a bundle after Thanksgiving if you’re judicious in what you buy. Always comparison-shop and make sure that deal you see before you actually is a deal.

Finally, remember that there are some things that will be deeply discounted after the holidays – things that are classic gifts but rarely get used. Gift cards, exercise equipment, and many other items will be on clearance after the New Year!

Image: Eva-Katalin

The post 8 Things to Buy After Thanksgiving appeared first on Credit.com.

8 Things to Buy After Thanksgiving

buy-after-thanksgiving

When it comes to shopping, the days and weeks after Thanksgiving are unparalleled.

You have the twin massive discount days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You have the seasonal Fall items going on massive sale to make way for the holidays. And you have discounts on things people might buy that aren’t necessarily linked to the holidays, like appliances and other capital equipment, because stores need to make room for next year’s models. Finally, the winter is the “off season” for so many things and buying in the off season can help you save a lot of money.

Here’s a list of things you should buy after Thanksgiving.

1. Electronics

The key to winning Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) is watching the circulars as they are leaked and doing some serious comparison-shopping. High-ticket electronics from brands you recognize like tablets, computers, and video game consoles from Sony, Microsoft, Apple, and more, will all tout mega-deals, the weekend after Thanksgiving. But remember, it’s best not to get carried away gorging on the great deals that pan out because it might leave you needing money closer to the holidays!

2. Leftover Thanksgiving Decorations

Thanksgiving will happen in just 52 short weeks but all those Thanksgiving-themed decorations, and many of the Autumn-themed decorations, will be deeply discounted as stores look to get rid of stock. If you’ve wanted an orange and red wreath or an Autumn-inspired centerpiece, now is the time to start snagging them because in a few short days they’ll be gone.

3. Live Christmas Trees

One sneaky good thing to buy right after Thanksgiving is live Christmas trees. Many live tree sellers will discount them initially to start moving some of their stock and then start selling them at regular price as Christmas draws near. They won’t start discounting them again until it’s time for the procrastinators to buy.

4. Big Ticket Appliances

Stores will discount large appliances as we near the end of the year to clear inventory for newer models. You can expect to see sales on refrigerators, washers, dryers and other large appliances around this time. If you are getting rid of an old appliance, you may find your local utility will haul it away for you or even pay you for them.

5. Cars

Late November is a fortuitous time for a car buyer. As the end of the year draws closer, sales people are thinking about hitting their annual quotas and willing to make deals to move cars. The next model year will have been released near the end of the summer, so previous model years that are still around in November have been sitting for a long time. The confluence of those factors makes late November and December a prime time to strike a deal.

(If you are thinking about buying a car, it’s important to check your credit since a good score will help you qualify for a better interest rate. You can view two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

6. Recreational Vehicles

The same logic for cars also works with recreational vehicles (RVs) but even more so. The winter months are also the slowest in the RV business. People hunker down for the winter and aren’t thinking about making cross-country trips — dealers will still want to sell vehicles.

7. Cookware

Cookware will be discounted because a lot of people will be cooking and entertaining, which means a lot of people will discover their cookware needs an upgrade. Retailers know this so, to win over their share of the market, they will entice shoppers with great deals around this time.

8. Tools

Tools make great gifts and retailers will often offer some fantastic deals on cheap tools. It’s a great time to pick up a tool you’ve always needed for that last project on the list but never had the heart to pay full price for.

You can save a bundle after Thanksgiving if you’re judicious in what you buy. Always comparison-shop and make sure that deal you see before you actually is a deal.

Finally, remember that there are some things that will be deeply discounted after the holidays – things that are classic gifts but rarely get used. Gift cards, exercise equipment, and many other items will be on clearance after the New Year!

Image: Eva-Katalin

The post 8 Things to Buy After Thanksgiving appeared first on Credit.com.

8 Black Friday Shopping Strategies

black-friday-tips-2016

Whether you’re a diehard tent-popper or stage a silent boycott every year, there’s no ignoring Black Friday. But are these deals as life-changing as we’re led to believe? Sometimes, yes, but in most cases, not really. After all, doorbuster discounts aren’t exclusive after Thanksgiving. In the past several years, retailers have held “Black Friday in July” sales, pre-holiday sales in October, and early bird sales the week before Black Friday.

Still, Black Friday is coming whether you like it or not. While some of you die-hards may have your strategy in place, newbies may need a tip or two if they plan to go shopping. Here are eight things to keep in mind as you prepare for Black Friday.

1. Make a List

Black Friday shopping can be overwhelming, so if you want to avoid going off the rails and buying a bunch of gifts you don’t need — or winding up in debt, which could drag down your credit — don’t keep your list in your head. Instead, use a gift-list app like Gifted (available on the Apple Store and Google Play) to keep track of recipients’ likes and dislikes, sizes, ideas and budgets.

2. Focus

Historically, the deepest Black Friday discounts are on electronics, apparel and beauty products, so instead of trying to conquer your holiday list in one day, focus on those three areas and tackle the other categories later. Also, since you still have plenty of time in the holiday shopping season to look for deals, go for only the deepest discounts (40% and up).

3. Sign Up for Store Emails

Now is a great time to sign up for emails from the stores you want to hit on Black Friday. You might be privy to advance details on sales or private discounts. Set up a separate free email account to capture that mail — there’s going to be a lot of it. Following stores on Twitter or Facebook can also keep you in the know.

4. Discounted Gift Cards

If you have a general idea of where you plan to shop, search online for “discounted gift cards (name of store),” and see what comes up. Many gift card merchants sell digital or printable gift cards that are discounted between 2% to 30%. Use that gift card to make a purchase, and you’ll save a bundle!

5. The Early Bird Bonus

If you’re game for getting up at the crack of dawn, you could be well-rewarded. In previous years, stores like H&M, Best Buy, JCPenney, Kohl’s & Kmart have handed out goodies like gift cards and even movie tickets to folks at the front of the line.

6. Consider Opening a Store Charge Account

Once you’ve made it to the store, you may consider asking about opening a store charge account to get an extra discount. While most stores offer 10% or 15% off your first purchase with a new account, some may have restrictions on sale days like Black Friday. If they don’t, you’ve scored an extra discount off of your Black Friday merch! Keep in mind, store cards usually have a high annual percentage rate (APR) so it’s a good idea to pay them in full. If you can’t, the rewards won’t be worth it. (Not sure if your finances can handle another credit card? You can view two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

7. Divide & Conquer

If there’s a store where you need to get several items, see if you can find a friend to join you. Compare lists and help each other out. You can dash off to the electronics section to grab discounted Apple Watches, and they can check out those doorbuster beauty deals you read about.

8. Don’t Ignore the Internet

If you just can’t bear the thought of pounding the pavement and fighting the crowds for deals, stay in, grab a cup of coffee, and check out the online deals. E-commerce retailers like Amazon (see my shopping hacks here), Target, Wal-Mart, Newegg and Best Buy are your best bet, as year after year they have offered Black Friday deals. Those with physical stores (like Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy) may have exclusive online deals.

Image: svetikd

The post 8 Black Friday Shopping Strategies appeared first on Credit.com.

Black Friday or Cyber Monday: What to Buy When

what-to-buy-on-black-friday-2016

Whether or not you mark off Black Friday on your calendar, chances are you’re wondering what bargains are out there this season. For instance, is it better to purchase a smartphone that Friday, or should you hold off until Cyber Monday? To help you break down what’s best to buy when, we turned to deal-hunting expert Rebecca Lehmann, manager of content marketing for Brad’s Deals. Here’s what she told us.

Black Friday

All Things Apple

Black Friday is a great time for buying “anything Apple,” said Lehmann, “but not directly from Apple” (i.e., you’ll want to shop for Apple products at Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy instead). “You might still be paying $299 for an iPad Mini,” she said, “but bundled with a gift card, that could bump up the value.”

Blu Rays & DVDs

“You can count on all that kind of stuff for Black Friday,” Lehmann said of Blu Rays and DVDs.

TVs and Cameras 

At times you can score deals on minor stuff like home goods and other categories, but for the most part you’ll want to hone in on electronics. For Lehmann, that means keep your eyes peeled for cameras, flat-screen TVs and laptops.

Smartphones

“If you need a new phone, Black Friday is hands-down the day to do it,” said Lehmann. “You’ll get a really good price on your trade-in, which you can then apply to your phone, and signing up for a contract lowers the price even more.” If you miss out on the Black Friday deals, don’t despair: The prices you see on phones now are generally “the prices they’re going to be for the whole season,” Lehmann said.

Vacuums

“We see a lot of vacuum deals for Black Friday,” said Lehmann.

Winter Wardrobe Staples

Out of boots? Need a new puffer coat? Now’s the time to scoop those winter duds up, said Lehmann. “Anything you need to pad up your winter wardrobe, Black Friday is the time to do it.”

Cyber Monday 

Airfare

“There are always going to be airfare sales on Cyber Monday,” said Lehmann, especially among discount carriers like Spirit, JetBlue and Virgin America. Just know they usually have blackout days over the holidays so you’ll need to plan your trip for next spring.

Computers & Laptops

This is really where places like Newegg, the popular online computer goods store, shine, said Lehman. “They have a little bit of everything, electronics and audio, and they’re very competitive.” Expect to see similar deals nationwide.

Online-Only Stores

“The best deals for Cyber Monday will be on websites that just don’t have bricks-and-mortar locations,” said Lehmann. Think home decor sites like Etsy, Minted, Society6, and so on.

Right Before Christmas

Toys

“Toys are never at their best on Black Friday,” said Lehmann, who advised waiting until the last two weeks before Christmas to buy them. You can learn how to get the toys your kids actually want here.

Remember, scoring a bargain never hurts, especially on items you’ve been meaning to buy. But if you’re going over budget or even racking up debt, then perhaps it’s time to take a step back. You can see where your finances stand — and what areas you need to improve — by signing up for a free summary of your credit report, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Image: Kikovic

The post Black Friday or Cyber Monday: What to Buy When appeared first on Credit.com.