For most college students, mid-November means cramming for finals and cranking out semester-end essays. But for those money-smart students who leave the library long enough to hit the mall, Black Friday sales afford the opportunity to buy stuff you'd get anyway, only much, much cheaper.
Even though most shoppers associate November's Black Friday consumer carnival with holiday presents, students shopping for necessities can also take advantage of merchants' deep discounts, according to two experts from the online coupon community Savings.com.
"The best thing you can do for yourself is create a budget so you're not spending way, way more than you're expecting to," said Sara Dunham, who recommends students heading to stores with cash-only or with a debit card to avoid holiday credit card debt. While shopping online for sales, look up a coupon code for each online purchase -- chances are there's one out there, she said -- and use price comparison tools like Google Shopping and CamelCamelCamel.com to grab the best deal possible.Here are some Black Friday discounts to look for:
Deck Your (Dorm) Halls.
"Places like Kohl's or Target are going to have insane Black Friday specials on everything, and that includes housewares, like towels or rugs or bedding, or organizational things," Dunham said. List your dorm room needs and take advantage of the deep discounts, she recommends. "I'm betting you'll find pretty much everything you need to decorate your room."
Dunham urges students looking ahead for Christmas airfare back home to shop online travel sites or pre-Black Friday airfare sales. After all, "That $20 or $30 off may not seem like that much, but every bit helps."
Hit The Books.
Trust us -- at least one professor in your four years will assign Nicolo Machiavelli's The Prince. And even though textbook discount season peaks in October, Dunham said, large book retailers typically offer holiday discounts on an item or even entire purchases -- especially for store members. Browse next semester's assigned readings to see if you can snag a popular paperback on discount during the holidays, instead of paying full price at the campus bookstore in January.
Share The Wealth.
Black Friday discounts at drugstore chains such as CVS are so drastic this year that smart shoppers can actually make a profit purchasing certain brands of essentials such as shampoo, lotion, toothpaste or even earbuds. Stock up and donate to a local shelter or food drive to give from your heart without paying a cent.
Ultimately, the strategies that help students make the most of holiday sales also apply to responsible purchasing habits year-'round, the experts at Savings.com said. Plan ahead, know your spending limits and shop around for savings.
"The joke is that college students don't have any money but in actuality they do," said Loren Bendele, CEO of Savings.com. "Whether it's your parents' money or your own money you have things you need to buy, so make that money go as far as possible and get the best deal."
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