As we all know, the Friday after Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday. This is the day where major stores offer incredible deals beginning at midnight.

 

Should you participate?

On the surface, getting an $800 computer for only $200 may sound like a great deal. But what's the real cost? I think it's a wise idea to examine these Black Friday deals just a little more closely. Here's what you're in for if you decide to participate in the frenzy:

  • You'll probably be standing in line for at least six hours, at night and in the cold, with no bathroom in sight. Are you physically ready for this?
  • Let's say you earn $20 an hour at your job. Standing in line for six hours is $120 worth of your time, before taxes, of course.
  • Have you ever been to Pamploña to join in the Running of the Bulls? If not, you'll have a pretty similar experience when you join a mob of hundreds, if not thousands, crashing through the store doors and running through the aisles, with not a soul caring about your safety. Have you seen the videos of people getting trampled? For what, to save a few bucks? (I thought we were living in a civilized society. Silly me.)
  • Is that computer really worth the $800 the store says it originally cost before this sale? Probably not. Consider the markup the store adds for making a profit, not to mention the cost of housing it in an actual store with employees who get paid. There's a bit of padding there.
  • Technology grows fast. By the time you get the computer out of the store and set up at home, it will already be outdated. Why? The items on sale are usually not the best sellers to begin with, and for a reason. Look before you leap.
  • Do you really want to give up your precious free time for this? I can think of 115,412 things I would rather do than stand in line for a sale.

 

You're not going to participate, but still want the deal?

Enter Cyber Monday. For those of you who won't tolerate the perils of Black Friday but want the deals, Cyber Monday was created just for you. Think of Cyber Monday as the same great deals as Black Friday, without the risk of death. Here are some of the benefits of Cyber Monday, as opposed to Black Friday.

  • Same great deals.
  • No lines, standing or otherwise. Shop from the comfort of work or home, sitting, and near a bathroom.
  • No risk of being trampled by an uncivilized stampede of people.
  • Technology is three days more advanced.

 

You missed both days and still want to save?

Then use your noodle. Here are some tips for saving money any day of the year:

  • Shop around. Here's a list of the top 15 price comparing websites.
  • Buy used. In economic uncertainty, people often sell items for quick cash, which means you save. Think ebay, Amazon, or Craigslist.
  • Haggle. You'd be surprised how many vendors are willing to negotiate the final price.
  • Get your coupon on. Sites like ebates.com have coupons o'plenty.
  • Shop online. You may have noticed a growing trend where online shopping has increased, while shopping at actual retail stores has decreased. This is no accident. Virtual stores are much cheaper to maintain than real stores. Of course, that savings is passed along to you, the consumer. It even happened here at SolarWinds. SolarWinds used to sell software on CDs along with hard copies of their manuals. Now it just makes more fiscal sense to sell everything digitally and online.

 

Happy shopping, and be smart. Be safe.