Black Friday and Cyber Monday: 5 Tips for Students on a Budget

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Students were built for Black Friday. It’s a day that demands stamina, impulse, and the ability to stay up late—three traits college students boast of with pride. If you’ve had your eye on a new smartphone, rice cooker, or desk chair to enhance your campus life, you’ll be hard pressed to find cheaper prices any other day. If online shopping is more your style, Cyber Monday is a once-a-year jackpot in savings for college students without the hassle of crowds and early-morning rushes.

Whether you click to save on Cyber Monday or prefer to duke it out in the trenches on Black Friday, these 5 tips can help you stock up on  Black Friday deals without blowing your budget.

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  1. Research costs and make a plan.  Retailers have all released their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals at least a week before the sale. Choose the stores you want to go to, and have a copy of the advertised prices at your fingertips to make sure you get the promoted deals.
  2. Bring your student ID. Some retailers give discounts to students, so use your college status to your advantage. Banana Republic and RadioShack, for example, offer year-round discounts for college students. All they require is that you show a current student ID. Every place you shop this weekend, ask about student discounts. You may be able to add even more savings to already reduced Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
  3. Know the store opening hours. Black Friday is notorious for early morning store openings—we’re talking 5 a.m. early—and stores can run out of inventory before you roll out of bed at noon. Set alarms on your phone to help you rise and shine to score the deals you’re waiting for. If early morning shopping isn’t in the cards for you, many stores are opening on Thanksgiving night this year, including Best Buy and Target. Check the store opening hours for the places on your list to be sure you’re first in line.
  4. Stay in budget. Black Friday is a great day for sales, but you still have to pay for tuition and books next semester. Approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping with a line-by-line budget in hand. Use the deal ads you researched to record prices for all the items on your list. Put your budget in your phone and keep track as you shop. If you are prone to impulse buys, set aside a certain amount for miscellaneous purchases so that you have a budget for awesome stuff you find that you didn’t plan for. That way you’ve set aside money to enjoy the shopping experience, but you won’t break the bank.
  5. Don’t forget academic sales. Black Friday isn’t all about clothes and electronics. Kaplan Test Prep is offering discounts on test prep courses starting Black Friday and running through Cyber Monday. You can save up to $200 on test prep for the GMAT, LSAT, GRE, and more. Get a leg up on the next step in your education with this weekend’s savings for test prep training.

No matter how you plan to score that deal, a little bit of savviness can lead you to smart shopping and extreme savings on this ultimate shopping weekend. Happy buying!

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What do you think about retail stores opening on Thanksgiving night?

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