How to Get the Most out of Black Friday Shopping

by Sara Seeger 24. November 2014

Black Friday

Black Friday has been known as the official “kick-off” for the holiday shopping season. It is a good time to shop for gifts for people for the holidays, or to get a great deal on that big ticket item you’ve been wanting all year. Even though retailers have begun airing holiday deals earlier and earlier each year (this year they started in September!), consumers can still receive plenty of savings on items they want during Black Friday.

If you are someone who is planning to venture out into the crowds during Black Friday, follow our tips to get the most out of your Black Friday shopping experience.

Spend Some Time Researching

It is important to check consumer reports and read customer reviews of items before you purchase. The product may have a low price tag, but if the product has poor customer reviews, it may not be such a good deal. Be sure to research different brands and models for a quality product before standing in line.

Browse the Deals Ahead of Time

It's a good idea to browse deals before you head off to shop. Many deals are advertised on TV and also online to give consumers an idea of what items will be on sale and where to find those items. Browsing the deals ahead of time will help determine where you should go, assist with budgeting, and aid in allowing you to see who you have to shop for.

Tip: Create a plan of action before you head off to shop on Black Friday. As you are browsing for deals, it is a good idea to create a list of people to shop for. Next to each name, write the product you want to purchase for them, the price of that product, the store/location where you can find the product, and also include any special hours for the sale.

Compare Prices

After you investigate which retailers sell the items you wish to purchase, compare their prices to ensure you are getting the best deal. Many stores will offer the same product, but it is prudent to examine what each store is offering. Some stores will offer “add-ons” when certain products are purchased, such as extra accessories or a store gift card. “Bundle” packages are also a favorite offering on Black Friday. Take the time to see what is included with each product to determine if the deal is really worth it or not.

Are You an Early Bird?

Many stores will advertise early bird specials and door busters, usually before 10 a.m., to help draw in the crowd that likes getting up early. Many early bird specials will begin at 4 a.m. and there is a limited quantity, so if you are interested in an early bird special, ensure you get to the store early. Many times, once these deals are gone, they’re really gone.

Don’t Forget Cyber Monday

If you aren’t into getting up early, limited parking, and crowds, don’t worry! You can enjoy deals right in the comfort of your own home. Some retailers offer deals on Black Friday online, but the majority of stores partake in “Cyber Monday” which is the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Whether you are preparing to hit the stores on Black Friday, or are more comfortable shopping online, there are bound to be many great deals this holiday season. Happy shopping!

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Tech the Halls with These 5 Holiday Money Savings Apps

How to Master Holiday Entertaining on a Budget

The Best Things to Buy in the Winter

The Scary Cost of Halloween

by Sara Seeger 14. October 2014

Ghosts, goblins and witches aren't the only thing to fear as October 31st inches closer. The amount of money Americans spend on Halloween is enough to give anyone the spooks! Check it out...if you think you can handle it.

The Scary Cost of Halloween

Best Loans for First Time Homebuyers

by Sara Seeger 7. October 2014

First Time Homebuyer

You've decided to purchase your first house - congratulations! You’ve hired a real estate agent and a few weeks later you find your dream home. Now you need to get the loan process started, so you research and choose a lender and before you know it you are in their office filling out papers and talking numbers.

This is the part where you will likely have numerous choices on which loan program works for you. Some programs have mortgage insurance, while others do not. Some programs require greater down payments, while others require less money down. How do you decide which program fits your needs as a first time homebuyer? Read below to sort through three of the most popular home loans.

1) Conventional

A conventional loan is what is sometimes known as a “traditional” loan. It is not guaranteed or insured by any government agency. Conventional loans do require a down payment, typically 5 percent or more. These home loans are often insured by private mortgage insurance if the down payment is less than 20 percent of the value of the property being financed. However, PMI (private mortgage insurance) can “drop off” when the loan balance is scheduled to reach 78 percent of the original value of the home. So PMI won’t have to be with the borrower forever with a conventional loan.

2) FHA

An FHA 203(b) home loan is a very popular first time home buyer loan option. This type of loan is insured by the Federal Government, and lenders are able to provide a borrower with competitive interest rates as a result. Credit score and credit requirements are generally more lenient than they are for a conventional loan. An FHA loan only requires a 3.5 percent down payment, which is the smallest amount down of any loan program, except a VA loan. However, FHA loans also require mortgage insurance, which will never drop off unless you refinance out of an FHA loan.

3) VA

In 1944, the U.S. government created a military loan guaranty program to initially help returning service members purchase homes. Since then, the program has helped more than 20 million veterans and their families with an affordable home financing situation. The VA loan has distinct advantages over traditional mortgages, such as requiring no down payment, competitive interest rates, and no mortgage insurance. However, you must meet eligibility requirements to qualify for a VA home loan. If you are active military or veteran, a VA home loan may be the right solution for your first time home buying needs.

As you can see, there are a variety of loan choices to consider when purchasing your first home. It is important to speak with your loan specialist about all of your potential options and find a loan program that fits your particular situation the best.

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