If you ask any given person for their favorite day of the year, you will most likely get a variety of responses. Maybe it’s your birthday? Depending on your family, friends, and age that may be a no-brainer. Perhaps you go with the easy one and say Christmas? I suppose Halloween might be at the top of someone’s list?
Sure, those are fun, but there is only one day of the year that I look forward to like none other. The one time a year where cheapasses everywhere can come together to compete (to the death?) for trinkets of varying caliber. The day when frugality is king. The day where I get to spend money that I’ve been accumulating all year for this one ocassion. My favorite day…
This is an adults-only holiday that was once a niche, semi-known event, but has morphed into something else (especially this year) as retailers start fighting to the death for your dollar. This year didn’t feel like Black Friday…it felt like Black Friday week. No, even more than that. There were pre-Black Friday deals, weekend deals, Cyber Monday deals, and then Cyber Monday week deals! Madness!
Before I go into what I was able to snag, here is what you need to know before attempting to do any serious Black Friday / Cyber Monday hunting. This may be a little too late (obviously), but may be helpful for next year; here are some guidelines to follow:
1) Never ever, ever, ever, ever go to the store if you can help it. NEVER. EVER. EVER!!
a) You’re wasting time; you can only do a few things during a small time window.
b) You’re competing with thousands of other people.
c) You’re wasting gas money driving around.
d) Do you REALLY want to wake up that early?
e) The deals that you can get in the store should be online as well AND you have numerous other bonuses you can perform ONLY online
f) Do you really want to be potentially shot, stabbed, trampled, or peppersprayed?
The only reason I went this year was to show my girlfriend how crazy it can get (she’s never gone). Everything I bought was found online first (except well, for the things I didn’t know I wanted).
2) Use the internet. It’s your friend. Use it well.
* Find deals in the first place – http://slickdeals.net (all I used this year). This (and other) websites track deals through user-submitted content. This allows great deals to “bubble up” to the “front page” through community voting. Basically, if something is a great deal, it’s here. Minimal research on your end is required. But if you need to make sure…
* See if they’re actually deals – http://camelcamelcamel .com (different variations depending on website). The camel websites track price changes for every product that is sold on the internet (per website; camelcamelcamel.com tracks Amazon, for example). It lets you see historical trends, let’s you see all-time low prices. It is a critical part of knowing whether or not something is a “deal” or not. Only works if it’s not a new item, obviously.
* Get cashback – http://fatwallet.com (or other equivalent sites; Google it). In case you didn’t know, there are websites called “cashback sites” that give you money for buying through their affiliate links.
Internet retail works by rewarding 3rd parties through referral links. Companies are trying to bring in traffic, and to do that, they need to give incentive to other people to refer to their site. This has been how online retail works for quite some time.
Cashback sites simply give a portion of the commission back to you. Try to comprehend that. I know, it’s difficult. No other commission-based industry EVER gives back to the consumer. YOU SHOULD NEVER BUY ANYTHING ONLINE WITHOUT FIRST SEEING IF YOU CAN GET CASHBACK. Hell, YOU SHOULD NEVER BUY ANYTHING IN STORE IF YOU CAN HELP IT.
Most credit cards have some form of “cashback”. My favorite, by far, is Discover. Every year during BF and Christmas they offer holiday bonus cashback. This year I got 2x Cashback (because November is my birthday month; I got lucky!), and most retailers were doubled for cashback as well. For example, if you bought something on Bestbuy.com with your Discovercard (and through Discover’s referral site), you get 10% back on your purchase. Discover and Bestbuy combo this year was c-r-a-z-y. Best Buy easily destroyed the competition this year in terms of deals. Being able to stack 10% cashback on top of that was amazing.
* Use COUPON CODES – retailmenot.com is my favorite site to get working coupon codes. Although with time-sensitive events like BF; slickdeals.net is probably your best choice (someone will have already found a coupon code for you).
3) You must plan what you want and when you can get it.
Most stores will have leaked ads of what they’re offering for the year a few weeks prior to the start of BF. This is good. This means you can PLAN ahead. The difficult thing is knowing when they go live online. This you may need to research. Everything should be online prior to midnight EST though. It gets complicated (and harder to plan) once content is available prior to that.
Most websites will allow you to either ship-to-store, in-store pickup, or free ship to home almost everything. Big ticket items may not be online. This is one reason you “may” want to go out into the wild, but I would advise heavily against it because the odds of you actually getting anything worthwhile are not in your favor. Again, you must waste your time waiting in line to get these. Although, if you’ve got a 4G phone; you could buy things while waiting in line! I haven’t advanced to that level of shopper yet, but I suppose it’s a viable option. Anyway, moving on.
Once they’re available, buy anything you want as fast as you can (using cashback and/or any coupon codes). Once you’re done, now you can go out at 3AM to the mall to watch the herds of people fight for stacks of items that YOU JUST BOUGHT ONLINE…or go to sleep, your call. Until people realize that they’re stupid for attempting to go to the store to buy things they can get online in the comfort of their own home, you can do this every year. I don’t anticipate this happening any time soon.
4) Even if you failed, you may be rewarded.
I made $33 for doing nothing this year; $33 in gift cards for having orders cancelled. Sometimes a company isn’t able to fulfill an order you placed. They aren’t obligated to compensate you for anything, but a lot do. They want your future business. They will oftentimes give you complimentary gift cards if they have to cancel any of your orders (for whatever reason). I know for a fact that Best Buy, Wal-mart, and Amazon will do this because it’s happened quite a bit over the years.
If you ever find a deal that looks like it’s too good to be true, and there’s no way you could ever get it, try ordering it. The worst that could happen is your money is refunded. Better things could be money for nothing or…you know…the actual item. It doesn’t hurt to try.
With that out of the way…
Here is a list of everything I picked up, complete with an arbitrary score of how great of a deal it was:
GE 4.1 cu. ft. DOE Front Load Washer and Drier
– $1,134.72 – I think this is the record for most money I’ve spent in a transaction? It’s pretty close anyway. The price is a little misleading and bloated though (for different reasons). Let me break it down. Girlfriend and I saw these in-store for $500 apiece. Not knowing ANYTHING about washer and drier prices we did a little research when we went home. It seems like a pretty good deal to me (still does). I saw that these were also available online, so I bought them.
This accomplished a couple things:
a) Let me use my 10% Discover card holiday cash back.
b) Let me do some calculations on how much I’d say using an energy efficient washer/drier (I like saving money per month).
I got boned by Home Depot upselling me cables (didn’t come with it…really??) for $65. I admit, I got lazy here. I could have picked up cables elsewhere for cheaper, but may have compromised the free delivery and installation, so I didn’t bother. True cost of this is closer to $900 after cashback and tax credit.
Not too shabby. Could do better, but I feel good about this one. I should have a washer and drier for at least another decade now. Although, we already had to have it serviced (panel wasn’t working), AND we found out that the drier duct was SEVERELY CLOGGED with lint (that wound up costing $450 to repair…gah, I was trying to block that out…). Washing clothes shouldn’t have to be this expensive…
The Ultimate Matrix Collection [Blu-ray] – $25.49 – Moderate deal. Was not really looking to pick this up. But if you can get an “Ultimate Collection” on Blu-ray for $25. You buy it. This was an Amazon Goldbox Deal of the Day.
TCL L32HDF11TA 32-Inch 720p 60 Hz LCD HDTV – $188 – Pretty good deal I thought. 2010 was the breakout year for cheap LCD TVs. 2011 followed that trend. I’m sure there were better deals, and TCL isn’t exactly a name-brand (although people say they make great TVs), but it’s a solid TV. Makes a great addition to my office. Picked it up as a Goldbox Lightning Deal.
Gungrave: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) – $18.99 – Prices on Anime sets have come waaay down this year. People who bought stuff on VHS tapes back in the day paid more than $19 for a few episodes. Hell, even DVD sets can go MSRP for hundreds. Even two years ago, someone saying you could pick up an anime set for < $20 ON BLU-RAY would call you nuts…but I digress.
Amazon had (has? I still see that the price hasn’t changed) an anime sale with all kinds of things for crazy cheap. This was the one thing I picked up. My anime hobby collection has sort of fallen by the wayside with the advent of thinpacks and Blu-ray sets. I think I enjoyed just collecting art boxes and random volumes more than the content itself! Most anime actually is pretty terrible, I just couldn’t bring myself to think that way for years…but I digress again!
GUNGRAVE is easily one of my favorite shows. I had to pick it up for this price.
LG BD630 Network Blu-ray Disc Player – $67.99 – Before I say anything else, I’m angry now because as of this writing it’s selling for $59.99. Sad noise. Didn’t do my homework here, and was an impulse buy for my mother. She wanted a DVD player, I decided she should get a Blu-ray player instead. Not an expert on Blu-ray players, but seemed like a good deal. I feel like I failed here…gah…
ShinChan: Season Three, Part One and Two – $43.98 – Gift for my girlfriend, a decent price considering, but not something I was tracking. There was no way that this wasn’t going to be bought…she’s memorized like every episode and hasn’t seen Season 3 (we didn’t even know there *was* a third season until recently).
The Sly Collection – $18.96 – I got lucky here. Another girlfriend purchase that was out-of-stock, but on backorder through Amazon. Pretty good price, I haven’t seen it any cheaper new anywhere else.
Toshiba Satellite L755-S5349 15.6-Inch LED Laptop – $399.99 – Now we’re talkin’! Big boy items now! Again, if I may briefly digress, does anybody remember how expensive laptops were even just a few years ago?? I guess with smartphone penetration and technology improvements it just isn’t as expensive as it used to be, but $399 for a brand-new laptop (I paid $500 for a refurbished HP Pavilion a few years ago…) is insane. How do these manufacturers make any money on this? The margins must be absolute crap. And the sad part is…it’s not even that great of a price! BF had some killer deals on laptops, but this was sort of the “last shot” for me because I was waffling on getting one all week.
This was a lightning deal (the only major one I was able to get…all my other attempts failed in Waitlist hell; I’m probably confusing you, but thankfully this is in parentheses…I really need footnotes…) and I took a bit of time deciding if I wanted to get this before committing. There’s nothing “spectacular” about it, but I needed a new laptop and this was a decent enough price for me. That with the fact of actually being able to get this as part of a lightning deal made it worth it. No way was I letting some other shmuck have my laptop!
MEElectronics M9-SL Hi-Fi Sound-Isolating In-Ear Headphones
– $9.99 – I am by no means an expert on headphones, but this seemed like a decent deal. This was a gift for my girlfriend who pretty much made it very clear that her headphones sucked and she wanted new ones through subtle and not so subtle hints for the last few months.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – $11.99 – One of my absolute favorite pickups. No idea when I will ever start to play this game, but I am very happy I got it. I f’in love me some TACTICS OGRE.
Prison Break: The Final Break – $7.49 – At first I thought this was a great deal, but then I got it in the mail, opened it, and said to myself, “Oh shit…this is a DVD. I thought this was on Blu-ray…”. Paying almost $8 for anything on DVD is almost ludicrous these days. Whoops. Still, I’ve been trying to find this for cheap for years. This is the best I’ve found it. That’s actually kind of…weird…
I’ve actually already watched it; it was pretty good. Totally silly, but it keeps in line with the crazy stuff that’s happened from season 3 onwards. Still pissed at FOX for NOT AIRING it originally, but hey…who’s bitter?
Season 1 and 2 were incredible moments of television, I still miss being able to watch this show on Mondays paired next to 24; disappointed it had to be banished to Fridays in season 4. Sarah Wayne Callies’s contract dispute and the writers’ strike crippled the show. It’s really too bad.
* all purchases from http://newegg.com yielded a 5% cashback from Discover
Malwarebytes Pro – $9.99 – Been using Malwarebytes for years now. I’m VERY hesitant to buy software for anything virus-related, but since I’ve liked the freeware version so much, $10 was a fairly easy decision.
Patriot 8GB DDR3 Laptop Memory – $20 (after rebate) – 8GB of memory for my new laptop. This was almost a mandatory purchase. Was able to sell the original laptop memory for $10 as well, so a 4GB memory upgrade costs me about $10. Not too bad.
* all purchases at http://bestbuy.com yielded a 10% cashback bonus from Discover
Let’s Tap – $5.87 – Yuji Naka made this game, so I was excited to try it. It’s just a shame it’s terrible…it really is just a terrible game.
Vanquish – $4.99 – Cancelled. Given a $5 credit card for nothing! I’ll take it! No clue what the game even was, I just saw it was $5.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Collector’s Edition – $8 – No desire to play the game, but $8 for a CE? Shi…but it was cancelled. $8 credit! I’ll take it again!
Metroid: Other M – $5 – I own the game already. But, again…$5?! How can you not buy a game for $5? But again: cancelled…and again, $5 credit! Hey, this is pretty nice!
Hoover-SteamVac – $106.74 – I had a pretty dingy steam cleaner. I wanted a new one. I saw it on Slickdeals for $100. I bit.
Fallout: New Vegas – $8.53 – Unfortunately, this one wasn’t cancelled, because I really don’t like the game!
Bioshock 2 Limited Edition – $10.14 – Sweet! If you’ve been paying attention…I play BS 2 quite a bit (coughimnumbertwointheworldcough), so I already own this. HOWEVER, I did not have the LE. I got crafty here and gave the game to a friend as a Christmas gift, but kept the LE for myself! I really, really like this LE. For $10!! This is probably one of the best deals I found this year.
Season 7/8 24 [Blu-ray], American Dad vol 1,2,3,4,5 – $57.98 – Was missing the last two seasons of 24, now I have them all. Girlfriend likes AD, now she has them all. Decent price. Could be better, but I’m satisfied. Picked this up at http://foxconnect.com during their BF sale coupled with COUPON CODE!
4 piece luggage set – $40 – Picked this up on http://jcpenny.com a few hours before BF midnight. They had some excellent prices on many things. They had a working coupon code that took $20 off $75 I believe. I think I ended up using a $10 off $50 online; ship-to-store.
15-piece knife set – $20 – Went to the mall and got this at JCPenny (didn’t see it online; otherwise would have bought). One of the only things on our “official” BF list was to find a decent knife set. We ended up snagging the last one while an old black lady asked a few people near us which knife set was on sale for $20.
Needless to say I quietly told my girlfriend, “we need to go…now”. You don’t want to get into a fight on BF; it’ll only slow you down.
6’ ladder – $20.28 – http://lowes.com had a pretty nice deal on a stepladder. Ordered it online for in-store pickup before BF began. Waltzed in to pick it up later in the day (people, there is no need to ever go to the store to buy things).
Pots and pans set – ??? – I don’t remember because girlfriend paid for this. I think it was $20…memory hazy, not manly enough; easily forgotten.
Lady clothing – $18.14 – Cyber Monday sale on…ahem…lady clothes. Picked up some things for my girl (after she decided what she wanted) for really good prices (apparently, I have no freakin’ clue). This was from http://maidenform.com.
Motrola Triumph – $128.10 – Here’s an interesting one. I really wanted an upgrade to my old Rumor 2 Virgin Mobile prepaid phone. I’m grandfathered into VM’s $25 unlimited plan (300 talk minutes, unlimited web and texting), so being able to snag an android phone was something I’d been looking to do for a while.
This is easily the greatest CYBER MONDAY deal I found. MSRP was $300. Half off sale on http://virginmobileusa.com had them for $150. Someone found a 20% off code to drop it to $120 (some managed to get FatWallet cash back to knock it to $100; I wasn’t able to).
Anyway, I picked up two of them; thought my girlfriend might want one, because this is an INSANE PRICE for these. She didn’t, so I ended up Craiglisting the other one for $215. In essence, picked up a new phone for $40. We have a BF winner!
I am sure I forgot something, because I am forgetful. Although that’s OK, it helps when you get 8 things in the mail one day and say to yourself, “What the heck did I order?? I don’t remember!”. That’s Black Friday, ladies and gentlemen.