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5 Black Friday & Online Shopping Hacks for 2020

Black Friday Hacks 2020
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This post is sponsored by Rebatesme.com. All opinions are my own.

The 2020 holiday season, as well as the shopping that accompanies it, will be different to say the least.

In recent years I’ve shopped for the holidays primarily online, while also mixing in a few daddy-daughter dates for buying family gifts.

Unfortunately, in-store shopping is on hold this year. So for me and for many others, 100% of holiday shopping will be online. 

But looking at things from a positive perspective, there are big opportunities to save that didn’t exist last year. 

With that said, here are my favorite Black Friday and holiday shopping hacks of 2020.

#1. Use Cashback Shopping Sites

Cashback shopping sites are the easiest way to save online. With just a few clicks, you can get a few extra percent back on your percentage. 

And if you’re patient and understand the game, you can often get much more. 

We talk a lot about cashback shopping on The Ways To Wealth. One thing we often repeat is to earn the sign-up bonus from each site. 

Earning the bonus from a cashback site allows you to go from saving a few percent to often over 10%. 

One newer cashback site worth checking out is Rebatesme.com. 

Rebatesme.com offers a $5 bonus just for signing up. They also offer a very generous, and limited time, $15 refer-a-friend bonus. 

But what’s especially likable about Rebatesme.com is that they often have one of the top cashback rates among big-name sites. 

This includes up to 8.1% back at Home Depot in the “Home” category, which includes interior furniture, textiles, home decor & wall decor, housewares, small electrics, luggage and tabletop goods.

Screenshot from Cashback Monitor, which shows the different rates available on top cashback sites.

For illustration purposes, let’s say you were to buy something at Home Depot in this category for $100. You’d get $8.10 cashback in your account. Add in the $5 bonus, and you’re now saving the equivalent of 13.1%.

Combine that with the right credit card, where you can get at least 2% more cashback, and you’re now over 15% off on your purchase. 

Learn more about Rebatesme.com.

#2. Travel Is Cheap Right Now (When You Understand the Risk)

Right now, I’m looking into booking our 2021 family summer trip. 

On the award travel front, there are some incredible deals this holiday season. In fact, there’s currently discount award space available from Chicago (where I live) to Honolulu during the summer of 2021.

That’s Hawaii’s busy season, so having any award availability during the period is rare. Finding discounted award availability is unheard of. 

Of course, the reason these deals are available is because of the uncertainty of whether you’ll even be able to travel at that time. 

And that’s where understanding the cancellation policies of each carrier comes into play. 

When you book award travel, the worst-case scenario with most airlines is that you’ll have to pay a fee to put the miles back on your account. This is usually cheaper than travel insurance, and so for me, it makes sense to go ahead and book a trip. 

It’s a bit of a gamble, but the upside is large and the downside is around $100 to $200 in fees. 

Read More: A Beginner’s Guide to Travel Hacking.

#3. Use This Gmail Hack to Stay Up-to-Date On Deals

The best way to get notified of your favorite Black Friday deals is often directly through a brand’s newsletter.

But I hate the idea of cluttering up my inbox. So I normally stay away from this tactic. 

Fortunately, there’s a creative hack that Gmail users can employ. 

When you sign up for a brand’s email newsletter with a Gmail address, add +sale to the end of your username. 

In other words, if your Gmail address is shopper123@gmail.com, then sign up for a brand’s email newsletter using the email address shopper123+sale@gmail.com.

Then, go into your Gmail account and create a “Sales” label, which you can do on the left sidebar on a desktop (here’s a guide to creating labels). 

Creating a new label in Gmail.

And then filer any messages sent to shopper123+sale@gmail.com into this label by clicking “Create filter”:

How to filter messages into a label in Gmail.

Yes, you could create a separate email address specifically for shopping. But personally, I always forget to check this separate address. 

By filtering messages automatically, you can then easily scan the sales, as well as search for them in Gmail’s wonderful search bar.

#4. Know What’s Really a Deal

Sooner or later, you’ll likely hear some company promoting…

the biggest sale of the year!

the biggest sale ever!

the biggest sale of the century! 

That last one is my favorite.

The goal of these phrases is to promote scarcity; to get you to buy something today (as in right now).

This has worked for companies for decades. 

Fortunately, thanks to a few helpful websites, it’s easy to uncover whether something is really a sale. 

If you shop on Amazon, you can use the free website CamelCamelCamel to check the price history of a product. 

Another good resource is Slickdeals, a deals forum that’s home to some of the savviest shoppers online. 

On Slickdeals, just type in the store or product you’re looking to buy in the search bar. 

For example, if I was looking for a Nintendo Switch console, I’d type that into the search bar:

The Slickdeals search bar.

From there, if I sort by rating, I can review who had the best deals (and when) on a Nintendo Switch console in the past. 

Screenshot of the Slickdeals forum.

I can also sort by newest, looking for thumbs up ratings, to see if there are great deals out there right now:

Slickdeals post sorted by ratings.

Or, I can even set up an alert to get notified of any new deals available for Nintendo Switch consoles (sign up with your +sales email address). 

The arrow shows how to set up an alert.

#5. Review Your Credit Card Bonus Categories

Credit card companies have had to adjust, as consumers’ spending behaviors have shifted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. And to many people’s surprise, they’ve made some positive changes that can help you save money. 

For example, the cashback bonus categories offered by different credit cards have been quickly changing this year in order to adapt.

So if you haven’t reviewed your cards’ existing benefits, it’s never been a better time to do so. 

In fact, lately it seems like one major credit card provider is adding a new perk every week, whether that’s extra cashback, a new way to use points (like for shopping on Amazon or for paying via PayPal), or statement credits for certain types of purchases (such as Chase’s recent announcement with Peleton).

Final Thoughts on Black Friday Shopping Hacks

This is how my shopping is changing this year. Now I want to hear from you. 

Do you have any favorite Black Friday or holiday shopping hacks you plan to take advantage of? Let me know in the comments. 

R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss is the founder and editor of The Ways To Wealth, a Certified Financial Planner™, husband and father of three. He's spent the last 10+ years writing about personal finance and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, MSN Money, and other publications.

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