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  • Why I Shop on Black Friday

    Why I Shop on Black Friday | Chief Family Officer

    I first started shopping on Black Friday because my dad needed a new overcoat. This was B.K. – Before Kids – and my parents and I headed to Macy’s at 7 a.m. We found the store was relatively empty and the sale prices were great . . . we were hooked.

    The tradition of shopping at department stores on Black Friday continued for a few years, but it died out once the kids were born, and if I did any Black Friday shopping, it was from the comfort of my desk.

    Fast forward to a couple of years ago, when one of my girlfriends suggested a middle-of-the-night post-Thanksgiving dinner Black Friday trip to the outlet stores. To be honest, I thought she was insane – who goes outlet shopping at 2 a.m.?!

    As it turns, we do! There have been four of us the last couple of years, and there will be at least three of us this year, maybe more. Each year, I tell myself it’s ridiculously crazy to leave the house after midnight and I think about not going, but then I go and I have a fantastic time. Mostly because I’m with some women I like very much, who are funny and fun – we talk up a storm, and find great deals for ourselves and each other.

    And yes, the deals really are great – an extra 70% off at Kate Spade, an extra 20% off at Nike and Under Armour, 60% off at Tory Burch (not that I’ve actually bought anything there – even at 60% off, their stuff is pricey!).

    I understand why some people are upset about the consumerism of Black Friday, and that some people hate that their loved ones work on Thanksgiving (though one year when I was at CVS, the cashier said she was happy to be working at time-and-a-half pay).

    Personally, I wouldn’t brave the crowds or stand in long lines alone. But I’ll do anything with my girlfriends . . . and that’s why I’ll be out there again this year!

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by David Castillo Dominici.

    Morning Coffee: Lots of new toy coupons, Shapewear at Zulily & More

    Morning Coffee is published daily and includes the best of the latest coupons, deals, and info I think you may find interesting. Prices and deals can change at any time so be sure to verify them before making your purchase. Please note this post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    ~ Today’s Kindle Daily Deal is The Eternal Wonder by Pearl S. Buck for $1.99 {list price $14.99; 4.0 stars in 160 reviews}

    ~ Zulily: ASSETS by Sara Blakely, founder of SPANX {shapewear starts at $7.99!}

    ~ New Coupons.com printables:

    ~ New printable coupon for $1/1 EQUAL® 0 calorie sweetener

    ~ New SavingStar offer for a FREE Reese’s® Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Egg (1.2 oz)

    ~ Today only: Ralphs/Kroger shoppers can get a digital coupon for one FREE Birds Eye Recipe Ready Frozen Vegetables

    ~ Money Saving Mom: Free Better Homes & Gardens Lightning magazine

    ~ Passion for Savings: Free sample of Tide detergent from CVS

    Banner ad via MySavings.com.

    5 Ways to Remember Your Reusable Bags

    Ways to Remember Your Reusable Bags - chieffamilyofficer.com

    Locals, have you noticed? Los Angeles banned plastic bags in stores effective January 1. We customers now have to bring our own bags or buy bags in store.

    I have to admit, I’m a little sad because I’m a huge bag re-user. Plastic bags get used in the kitchen to collect waste on the countertop – it’s more efficient than constantly walking over to the trash can, and it’s also nice to have a double barrier of plastic on anything wet. Plastic bags also get used to collect muddy cleats after games, and so on. Paper bags get used to give stuff away all the time – whether to a friend, or donate to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, etc. I’m going to miss those free bags!

    But, I understand the motivation behind the plastic bag ban, and we already have more reusable bags than one family needs. The trick is remembering to bring the bags into the store. So here are some tips to make that happen:

    1. Keep bags in your car. Unless you usually bike to the store, in which case you should bundle up the bags and keep them in your basket. To help remember to put the bags back in the car, get in the habit of leaving them by the door once they’re empty, so you seen them on your way out.

    2. Keep extra bags in the car. You will, inevitably, forget to take the bags back to the car. So have enough bags that you always have a couple of extra bags in the car, even after your biggest regular shopping trip.

    3. Put some bags in your coupon bag or purse. Some reusable bags come with a nifty feature that allows them to become super compact. I have one that folds up and zips into a tidy little square, and a couple with a built-in strap and snap {similar to what’s on a folding umbrella}. These types of bags are great for keeping in your purse, for those occasions when you forget to take a bag out of the trunk, although they won’t be enough for a big shopping trip. And they won’t really help someone who doesn’t carry a bag while shopping, unless you get in the habit of keeping one in your pocket!

    4. Leave your cart near the registers or at customer service. If you realize while shopping that you forgot your bags in the car, just ask a cashier or someone at the customer service desk to keep an eye on your cart while you run out to the car for your bags.

    5. Have everything put in your cart, then fill your bags at the car. If you don’t realize you’ve forgotten your bags until you’re already being rung up, ask the clerk to put all of your unbagged items into the cart. You can fill your bags when you get to your car, and then return the cart as usual. Or, if you don’t mind leaving the register while your items are being rung up, make a quick run out to your car as soon as you realize you forgot your bags. {But many couponers like to keep an eagle eye on the register, so the first alternative gives you that option.}

    How do you remember your reusable bags?

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    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by kraifreedom.

    Strategies for Shopping Black Friday Sales {Nov. 29, 2013}

    Black Friday Shopping Strategies at chieffamilyofficer.com

    Black Friday has changed dramatically in the last few years, as online shopping has become more and more popular. Here are some tips for making your Black Friday shopping as easy as possible:

    First, you should determine what items you want or need to purchase. Popular items at this time of year are electronics, toys, clothes and other gift items, but you can find deals on pretty much anything.

    Once you have your list, you should review the Black Friday ads available at sites like GottaDeal.com and SlickDeals. As soon as Black Friday ads are leaked, these sites post them for savvy shoppers to review. Based on the ads, you can prioritize the stores you want to target.

    At this point, you should decide whether you want to focus on shopping online or at brick and mortar stores. Keep in mind that while online stores have great deals on Black Friday, they may also have great deals on Cyber Monday – so you’ll want to review the Cyber Monday ads too. However, note that for true bargain shoppers, Cyber Monday deals have historically paled in comparison to Black Friday deals.

    Once you’ve decided whether you’ll focus on online or brick and mortar stores, you can tailor your strategy as follows:


    When it comes to shopping online on Black Friday, your best friend is a fast internet connection. You’ll also find the best selection if you shop early. Online Black Friday shopping is particularly great for electronics and toys, which are the type of brick and mortar stores that seem to have the biggest crowds and longest lines. (I’ve scored great deals on TVs and computers on Black Friday these past couple of years, and I’m in the market for yet another TV on Amazon that day.)

    To get the most out of your Black Friday shopping online, take the time to set up an account at the stores you plan to shop at. Create your username and password, put a credit card on file, and enter your billing and shipping addresses. Having this information already set up will allow you to check out faster, which can be critical when it comes to limited quantity or time sensitive items.

    Another thing you can do ahead of time is put items you want to buy on your wishlist so that you can find them easily. For example, you could add this $9 Sheath Dress at Ultimate Outlet, and then wait to see if there’s an even more incredible deal on it on Black Friday.

    Finally, one perk of doing your Black Friday shopping online is the ability to save even more money by going through cash back sites. You’ll want to sign up ahead of time, and then use a site like evreward.com to figure out which site is offering the best cash back deal (but be aware that they don’t list every cash back site).

    My personal favorite cash back sites are Ebates, which is offering a FREE $10 gift card to new members who make a $25 purchase, and Mr. Rebates, which is offering a FREE $5 registration bonus to new members. You can also earn cash back through sites like Swagbucks and SavingStar {both are sites I love and use regularly, but I haven’t personally used their shopping portals}.


    If you prefer to shop at brick and mortar stores on Black Friday, definitely go as early as possible. Notwithstanding the inevitable lines at stores like Best Buy, my personal experience has been that the crowds increase throughout the day. Plus, many stores offer early-bird specials for their first shoppers, and you’ll find the best selection.

    There are a couple of things you can do ahead of time to make your in-store Black Friday shopping go as smoothly as possible. The first is to plan a strategic route through your target stores. If you’re after something that’s super popular, get that first before stores run out. But you’ll also want to think about minimizing the amount of driving, walking, and back-tracking you’ll have to do.

    The second thing you can do ahead of time is get any coupons ready. The Thanksgiving Day newspaper should be filled with circulars and look more like a Sunday newspaper than a weekday one. Many of the circulars will have special Black Friday coupons. Be sure to pull those out and put them in a place that will be easily accessible while you’re shopping.


    Ever since I started playing The Drugstore Game, the drugstores have been my favorite place for Black Friday shopping. They have fantastic deals, including many free items, as well as bargains on gift-able items, and everyday necessities. And the best part is, most drugstores are open on Thanksgiving Day, so if you can get away for a little while on that Thursday, you can still do all of your Black Friday shopping on Friday!

    This post was underwritten by UltimateOutlet.com. UltimateOutlet is the official outlet of Spiegel, Newport News and Shape FX, and offers a wide range of high quality, reasonably priced women’s fashion. Read the full CFO disclosure policy here.

    This post contains affiliate links that support this site at no additional cost to you – thank you for using them! Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Iamnee.

    Review: Favado {Grocery Saving App}


    Last week, I had the fabulous pleasure of attending the Savings.com Favado app launch, where I learned about this new grocery savings tool, and got to meet Andrea of Savings Lifestyle and Toni of The Happy Housewife for the first time after “knowing” them online for years. (If you’re fans of theirs too, know that they are as nice in person as they are online!) I enjoyed meeting the other bloggers in attendance too, as well as members of the Savings.com team. 🙂

    Favado is a new (and free!) mobile savings app that helps you find the best deals at your favorite stores, with and without coupons. For instance, using just the app and two $0.50 off coupons, one of the groups at the launch party scored 30% savings on their purchase. Andrea and I shopped together, and spent just under $100 for over $210 worth of items! (We used more coupons, of course, but not that many since we didn’t have our usual stash of inserts at our disposal.)

    I think Favado is an especially terrific option for someone not looking to use a whole bunch of coupons. It’s so easy to use, and includes listings for more than 65,000 grocery stores nationwide. You can use it to make up a list based on this week’s ads, complete with coupon match ups, and email the list to yourself (with links to any printable coupons). You can search for the current best price on something you need (perfect for when you run out of something!). And you can get notifications of sale prices on specific items (just tell Favado what you want to know about).

    One of the changes I suggested is to include right in the listing an “as low as” figure so that a deal-seeker with a price list would be able to tell without clicking through if there are coupons or other savings that bring the item down to a stock-up price. As it stands right now, I still find my method of scanning blog match ups for stock up prices easier to do than checking each individual item in Favado. But Favado is still useful for creating my shopping list once I know which store(s) I’m going to.

    Favado Screen Shot

    If you haven’t tried Favado yet (it’s FREE!), I encourage you to check it out. The development team at Savings.com is really interested in making the app as useful as possible, so if you have a suggestion for improvement, definitely use the Feedback option in the app to send them your idea. You can sign up below, and start using Favado as soon as you’ve downloaded the app!

    Disclosure: The Favado links in this post are affiliate links (thank you for using them!). All opinions are my own, honest opinions. You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    My New Favorite Way to Save: Price Matching

    As I mentioned on Facebook the other day, I shop at Target all the time but just price matched for the first time ever there.

    I loved it!

    And I will definitely do it again.

    See this basket?

    Lego gift basket

    I just put it together for a fundraiser at school, after collecting money from other parents and purchasing the Lego sets at Target. The giant box at the back of the basket is the Lego Star Wars Sith Fury-class Interceptor, which had a shelf price of $89.99. I was standing in the store, talking to a mom I’d run into, when it suddenly occurred to that it might be cheaper at Amazon and that I could price match if it was. And it was! When I looked it up on Amazon on my smartphone, it came up $71.36.

    Naturally, I headed over to Guest Services, and asked them to match Amazon’s price. They have to look up the item on the Target-owned iPad to verify the price, and I was told that for Amazon, the item has to be “sold and shipped by Amazon.” (Luckily for me, the Lego set was sold and shipped by Amazon at the time, because it’s over $130 from a third-party seller right now!)

    It seems like once the Target team member has verified the other store’s price, it’s a simple matter to change the price when ringing up the item. My receipt shows the item at the price-matched price, and underneath that, it says “Regular Price $89.99.”

    You can read Target’s full price-matching policy here.

    Do you price-match?

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