If you love a good deal but hate standing in line, check out my tips for saving the most money when shopping online! Use these tips on Black Friday or all year round! This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase from one of these links, not only are you getting a great product (because I only recommend things that I love), but you are also helping to support this blog, at no additional cost to you! (Your cost is the same, but I may receive a small commission.)Please check out my disclosure policy for more details.
I love this time of year! I love spending time with family on Thanksgiving, and then kicking off the Christmas season the next day! I hold off on decorating for Christmas until the weekend, but that Friday is reserved for Christmas shopping. Every year, the girls in my family get together and shop on Black Friday. We make a day out of it – getting up early, finding great deals, stopping for lunch, more shopping, recharging with caffeine, more shopping… Though I have so much fun doing this, I have found that I can still get great (or better) deals online with less hassle.
If you want to skip the crowds this year, shop from the comfort of your own home and follow these tips! (And if you are looking for gift ideas, check out my gift guide page for a full list of gift guides published on Pennies & Playdough!)
RetailMeNot is the first place that I check out when I’m going shopping, online or in-store. It is a website that lists coupon codes for almost any store that you would like to shop at! Simply type the store name in the search bar at the top of the webpage, and it will pull up a list of available coupon codes. It lists coupon codes for shopping online, and printable coupons for use in-store (if available). You can also download the app on your phone, and the retailer can scan the coupon barcode on your phone, no need to print! Check it out at www.retailmenot.com.
My next stop when shopping online is Ebates. Ebates is a great website offering cash back on purchases made online at thousands of stores. It is a great way to earn back a bit of the money that you are spending online. I have been using Ebates for several years, and have had a great experience. The cash back that you earn accrues in your Ebates account, and pays out once a quarter as long as you have at least $5.01 in your account. If you have less than $5.01 in your account at the end of a quarter, that money is held in your account and will continue to accrue as you shop. Once you reach the required $5.01 minimum, you will receive your payout at the end of that quarter.
You can choose to have Ebates either send you a check or make a deposit into your PayPal account.
Here’s how to use Ebates:
- Sign up for Ebates (click here to use my referral link): *If you sign up and make $25 in purchases during the first 90 days, you will get a $10 Welcome bonus. If you sign up through my referral link, I will get a bonus, too!
- Enter the store you would like to shop at in the search bar at the top of the page.
- The Ebates page for the store entered will be pulled up. This page has a lot of helpful information about the store. The left column includes shipping info, cash back facts, and “shopping secrets” for that store. The right column lists sales and coupon codes. I compare the coupon codes here with what I found on RetailMeNot and use the best one. To activate your cash back, click on the “Shop Now” button.
- Once you click on the “Shop Now” button, a box will pop up indicating that an Ebates “shopping trip” has been opened for the store you chose. It also lists the percent cash back that you will receive for that order. You will then immediately be redirected to the store’s homepage.
- Shop and checkout as usual! (Don’t forget to enter your coupon codes!)
- Your cash back will be added to your account when Ebates receives the order information from the store, usually within 2-3 days.
*I have noticed that a lot of stores double their rebates during the week of Thanksgiving. The stores I typically shop at normally range between 2-4% cash back, so if they happen to be offering double the cash back, you may be earning back sales tax! In addition to earning % cash back, Ebates will also offer bonuses at times, like a dollar amount bonus for spending a certain amount in a designated time period. You also earn bonuses through referrals, so your cash back can really start to add up!
REMEMBER – log into Ebates first and go to the store’s page through the Ebates website so your order will be tracked!
My Favorite Places for Black Friday Shopping
I do the majority of my online Black Friday shopping at Kohl’s. I also shop for certain items at Walmart, and keep an eye on Amazon’s daily deals.
Kohl’s is my first stop when shopping for Christmas gifts! I love shopping at Kohl’s because of their stackable coupons. You can use Kohl’s Cash, Yes2You Rewards, percent off coupons and dollar off coupons all in one transaction, and they are good for use on clearance and sale items! (*Note that dollar off coupons/Yes2You Rewards/Kohl’s cash are applied before percent off coupons.) In addition to this, you earn $15 in Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent. (This is a great deal! During the rest of the year, you only earn $10 in Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent.)
What I like to shop for at Kohl’s:
I have been shopping Kohl’s Black Friday sales for several years, so I have noticed what typically goes on sale, and the price or discount rate. Here are the things that I like to shop for during this sale:
- Toys: Kohl’s has a lot of toys on sale for 50% off every year during their Black Friday Sales.
- Small appliances: There are several $10 small appliances after mail-in-rebate, including slow cookers, coffee pots, blenders, etc. They make great graduation and wedding gifts!
- Sheet sets and bath towels: Good quality sheets and bath towels are typically discounted by 50% or more during this sale. This is the time that I buy new bedding for the kids!
- Children’s hooded towels: I have purchased several children’s hooded bath towels during the Black Friday sales over the last few years. These are great bath towels and larger than any other hooded kids towels that I have found. Plus they are super cute! My kids love them.
- Children’s clothing: There are good deals on children’s clothing during this sale. However, since the children’s clothing is on sale fairly often, I may hold off and use my Kohl’s cash to purchase more clothing the following week.
- Smaller items for gift exchanges and teacher gifts: There are great sales in every department! You can typically find great items for under $10 that are perfect for gift exchanges and teacher gifts. Some of the items I have bought in the past include: Christmas mugs, comfy fleece throws, scarves, slipper socks, candles, & picture frames.
How to save at Kohl’s:
- Sign up for Yes2You rewards (click here) and earn $5 for every 100 points ($1 spent=1point).
- Shop Black Friday Sales online starting the Monday of Thanksgiving week! Don’t forget to shop through EBATES!
- Input coupon codes at checkout!
- Kohl’s allows the use of both a percent off and a dollar off coupon on the same transaction!
- If you have a Kohl’s charge card, there may be a better percent off offer. I have seen Kohl’s charge card holders receive coupons for up to 30% off.
- Earn $15 Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent (after all discounts are applied and before tax) during the week of Thanksgiving. **If you are $2 short when making your purchase, you will still earn Kohl’s cash! According to their customer service, you will still earn Kohl’s cash if you spend $48. No need for a $2 filler item!
- I take note of my cart total before I complete my purchase, to ensure that I am not missing out on an extra $15 in Kohl’s cash by just a few bucks. As I mentioned earlier, you will receive $15 for every $50 that you spend. So, if I am close to the next $50, I may add something additional to my cart to get the $15 cash back, but only if it makes sense. For example, if I am $5 short from earning the next $15 in Kohl’s cash, I would buy a smaller item that I could use in a gift exchange or for a teacher gift. If this item costs $10, I would be spending an additional $10, but would be receiving $15 in Kohl’s cash, so would still net $5 and have a gift that I can use!
- I use the Kohl’s cash that I earn to buy additional Christmas gifts the next week. Though the Black Friday sales will be over, you will still get in on Cyber Monday sales!
The second place that I shop online Black Friday sales is Walmart. Though Walmart’s Black Friday sales start in-store at 6pm on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, they start at midnight that morning online! Shop the Ultimate Gift Guide All Year Long at Walmart.com!
What I shop for at Walmart:
- I shop for movies/tv series at Walmart. Walmart has huge discounts on DVDs and BluRays during their Black Friday sales.
- I also shop for board games. I think board games make great gifts for kids, and Walmart typically has several board games for less than $10, and some for less than $5.
I plan ahead, add all of the items that I want to purchase to my online cart the night before, and then just have to check out as soon as the sales go live! This helps ensure that an item is not sold out before you are able complete your purchase!
How to save at Walmart:
- Check out the online Black Friday ad.
- Click on the section of the ad that interests you. If the items are available in-store only for the Black Friday price, a box will pop up indicating that.
- Save the items to your cart. If the items are available to purchase online, a new page will open displaying the items. You can click on the item and add it to your cart.*They will not show the Black Friday sales price until the sales go live. Add them to your cart anyway.
- Stay up late Wednesday night. The sales should go live around midnight Thursday morning.
- Review your cart to ensure the prices reflect the Black Friday Sales price, then checkout! *Do not forget to shop through Ebates!
- Go to bed, sleep late, then enjoy stuffing your face the rest of the day (and spending time with family 🙂 )!
I also like to keep an eye on Amazon when shopping for Christmas gifts, specifically the “Lightening Deals” and “Deals of the Day.”Amazon typically has a “Countdown to Black Friday”sale 12 days before Black Friday, listing different items for sale each day. You can check it out here: Shop Amazon – Countdown to Black Friday.
If you have an Amazon Prime account, you get free 2 day shipping with no minimum purchase! I use this feature all of the time for last minute gifts. If you do not have a Prime account, you can use my referral link and sign up for a free 30 day trial! Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. (Plus there are so many other perks to having Amazon Prime, including free streaming video, photo storage, streaming music, & free access to Kindle books. I love it!) This is the perfect time to try Prime for free and get free 2 day shipping on your Christmas gifts! I also love Amazon because I can find almost anything there!
Amazon typically slashes their prices on Kindles during their Black Friday sales. If you have been thinking about purchasing a Kindle for yourself or as a gift, this is a great time to buy! I have both a Kindle Paperwhite and a Kindle Fire HD 8, and love them both! The Kindle Paperwhite is purely an e-reader, and is great for reading anywhere, even in full sun! (I took it to the beach with me!) The Kindle Fire is a tablet, and I love reading blog posts and catching up on social media on this rather than my phone! It is also used a lot by my boys to pass the time (watching Amazon Prime movies and TV shows) while my daughter is in her dance or piano classes.
I don’t know about you, but though I do the bulk of my shopping online, I still like to get out on Black Friday (not Thanksgiving Day!). I also like to check out Target and JCPenney for kids’ clothing deals. I don’t enjoy the lines, but love spending time with my girls looking for deals! If you do brave the crowds, don’t forget to download the RetailMeNot App to look for coupons!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and happy shopping!
Originally published November 15, 2016. Content updated for accuracy.