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Black Friday Guide: Smart and Stupid Purchases

October 21, 2014 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

Black Friday is dead.

There, I said it, and the earth amazingly continues to revolve around the sun. OK, there are some exceptions when it does makes sense to make a purchase on Black Friday. But these exceptions are becoming fewer and fewer every year. As a general rule, I am a huge advocate of Christmas shopping all year long as it allows you to only buy when you find a screaming deal. Then when December rolls around it greatly reduces your stress level as you have most, if not all, of your holiday shopping done. Since we are still a month away from the infamous Black Friday weekend I figured it was time to officially document when you’ll be able to get the best deal on specific items on your gift list. Use this information to plan your shopping this year and you’ll definitely maximize your savings.

Black Friday

Important Note: I should also add that when I say “Buy on Black Friday” I am talking about the entire Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Be on the lookout for deals (both online and in-store) on all of those days, which now unfortunately includes Thanksgiving day.

Stupid Black Friday Buys

Name Brand Televisions

  • Don’t Buy on Black Friday. Sure there are always some screaming deal on TV’s on Black Friday. The problem is the brands you’ll find on sale are typically unrecognizable. Along with the 3rd tier brands are questionable specs and quality. If you’re a college student and looking for a disposable TV from Best Buy for your dorm room you’ll want to head out BF morning. If you’re looking for a quality TV that will hold up for the long run, you’ll want to look for deals right after Christmas through February. The reasoning is new models are typically released in late January at the Consumer Electronics Shows in Vegas. Plus, sellers always offer sweet deals around the Super Bowl. Both of these reasons will help you score a sweet deal on a high quality brand like Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic.

Popular Christmas Toys

  • Don’t Buy on Black Friday. Instead, wait until 2 weeks before Christmas as they are notoriously lower in price than on BF weekend. Sure, you might see some deals sprinkled in the Black Friday ads but none as good if you wait a couple weeks.

Fitness Equipment

  • Don’t Buy on Black Friday. Always wait until January to shop for fitness equipment. Retailers notoriously offer some great sales and incentives to folks looking to get in shape as a New Year’s resolution. Look for products like elliptical machines, treadmills, and weight machines to be offered at up to 50% off in early January at Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Winter Apparel

  • Don’t Buy on Black Friday. Deals will NOT be abundant in late November as retailers take advantage of a cold and captive audience for jackets, hoodies, boots, and parkas. When it comes to scoring deals on apparel, the general rule is that it is always the most expensive during the season it is being worn. Wait until the last few weeks of winter and you’ll easily save 50% off that next coat or pair of boots.

Large Appliances

  • Don’t Buy on Black Friday. New model refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens hit the sales floor in September and October. Because of this, you might be able to find a good deal on last year’s models on Black Friday but new models are typically not discounted very much. Smaller kitchen appliances like microwaves, blenders, and mini fridges will be on sale at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Tools and Hardware

  • Don’t Buy on Black Friday. Unless you absolutely need them, power tools are a much better deal during the few weeks leading up to Father’s Day. Our research has shown that Father’s Day coupons and sales on cordless drills, table saws, routers, and the like, are 30% better than Black Friday weekend. If you can afford to wait you’ll save some significant money.

DSLR Cameras

  • Don’t Buy on Black Friday. Buy your high-end DSLR camera in February after the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. You’ll be able to score a sweet deal on last seasons model as retailer discount them heavily in order to make room for the newest and greatest models. If a slick little point and shoot digital camera is in your future, then there will be plenty of deals to pick from on Black Friday. Also, be sure to check eBay the days right after BF as many of the door-buster camera deals will be up on eBay as wanna-be entrepreneurs try to turn a quick buck.

Smart Black Friday Buys

3rd Tier Televisions

  • Buy on Black Friday. Many of your doorbuster BF deals are on 3rd tier televisions. Last year saw some pretty crazy deals. 42″ HDTV’s in the $300 range. I have actually seen a couple predictions for BF 2014 that included a 32″ HDTV in the $75 range and a 4K TV under the $400 price point. But be prepared to settle for brands you have never heard of in most cases. A Best Buy employee actually just told me that most of the door-buster TV’s they get for Black Friday are specifically made for that day and are not of good enough quality to stock all year long. Yes, the deals are often amazing but know what you are getting. Buyer beware.

Clearance Apparel

  • Buy on Black Friday. Retailers really start slashing their fall clothing lines every Black Friday weekend. We are talking like 65% to 75% off at stores like Old Navy, American Eagle, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Gap. My wife and I regularly stock up for our 3 kids on Black Friday. We’ll buy a size or 2 up and store until the following autumn. With savings in the 75-80% off range it just makes sense. Plus, if you prefer to stay at home on Black Friday and sleep in, just shop on Cyber Monday when you’ll see the best online coupons of the year at online clothing and apparel retailers.

Budget Laptops

  • Buy on Black Friday. Last BF we saw budget laptops from Dell ($177 at Best Buy) and the 14″ Chromebook for $179. Look for similar deals this year. These systems usually come equipped with a 14″ or 15″ screen and a dual core processor and RAM in the 2-4 GB range. If you’re not doing any serious gaming, video editing, or going to be running a bunch of programs at once, they will definitely suffice.


  • Buy on Black Friday. Tablets from brands like Samsung, Microsoft, and Lenovo have been a major draw in recent years and the deals have been pretty amazing. This year look for the Samsung Galaxy 4 tablet to drop to $99 on Black Friday (currently $179.99 at Best Also, will be running big deals on their Kindle Fire tablet. Black Friday is an excellent day to score a deal.

Apple Products (Except the iPhone 6)

  • Buy on Black Friday. In 2013, there was only one day when Apple products were on sale almost across the board. Any guesses? Yes, it was Black Friday. The discounts were modest bot definitely noteworthy: $41 off the iPad Air and iPad 2, $21 off the iPod touch, $101 off the MacBook Air, $101 off the MacBook Pro with Retina display and $101 off the popular iMac. Just be sure to not shop at the Apple Store as deals at stores like Walmart and Best Buy will be better. Look for both retailers to offering significant gift cards with an Apple purchase to entice Black Friday shoppers.

Home/Kitchen Goods & Decor

  • Buy on Black Friday. Deals are always abundant on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Great time to stock up if you’re not brand specific. You might not find a screaming deal on All Clad and Calphalon but cheaper brands will really have their prices slashed.

Xbox One and PS4 Games

  • Buy on Black Friday. According to many gaming websites the single best day to pick up a screaming deal on new and older games is on Black Friday weekend. Look for new titles to drop by 20-30% and older titles to really be cleared out and sold for up to 75% off. Also, if you are cool with pre-owned titles Gamestop will probably offer the same offer as last year of “Buy 2 used products, get 1 Free”.

Ask the Reader: What is your Black Friday strategy this year? Will you be hitting the stores or hanging at home with the family and eating those delicious leftovers? As for me…I’ll probably end up doing a little bit of both.

By Kyle James


How to “Crack the Price Tag Code” for Holiday Savings

October 14, 2014 by Kyle 2 comments   •   Filed Under ,

OK, so I figured it was time to come up with some highly practical ways to use my Crack the Price Tag Code resource to help you save money on your Holiday and Christmas shopping this year. I have had many emails from folks trying to figure out how to best use my info when shopping. In other words, what products and gifts provide the best value when cracking the code. So it is with this in mind that I present some very usable ways to “crack the code” and cross names of your gift list at a MAJOR discount.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The earlier you shop, the better your chances of really making this stuff work to your advantage.

Black Friday

American Eagle Outfitters

Quick Recap: Price ending in .95 is full price, and prices ending in .00 or .99 is a clearance price and your best bet at American Eagle Outfitters.

  • Your single best strategy for Holiday savings at AEO is to wait until Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.
  • Go in to the store on that infamous weekend, or shop online, and head straight for the clearance rack and look for items ending in .00 or .99.
  • Why? Because they always offer coupons on clearance items that time of year which will help you Christmas shop at close to 80% off the original price. You’ll save 20-30% more than any other time of year.
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. American Eagle always has in-store coupons on Black Friday/Cyber Monday that are good for clearance items. So head to the store, crack the code, and use a coupon for savings in the 80% off range.

Costco Warehouse

Quick Recap: Prices ending in .99 is full price at Costco, ending in .97 it’s a discounted price, and an Asterisk (*) in upper right hand corner of price tag means clearance item.

  • So when shopping for Christmas gifts at Costco always start by looking for items ending in .97 or with the * on the price tag.
  • The .97 and/or * always provides the best value.
  • Let’s say you are buying your Mom a coffee maker and they have 3 different brands for sale. By buying the coffee maker ending in .97 or with the * on the tag you’ll end up getting the item for 20%-30% cheaper than anywhere else. Be sure to start looking for deals now, don’t wait until Black Friday or early December as the more time you have the better your chances of finding a deal.
  • Costco notoriously carries quality brands across the board so stop being a brand loyal shopper and instead crack the price tag code and shop for the best value.
  • Also, I have a Costco pricing tip from reader Eric that fits well into your Christmas shopping strategy. He says to look for items that “end in 00 (i.e. $25.00). They are either a returned unopened item that has already been deleted from the system or a one-of-a-kind item and is always the lowest price.”
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: No. Costco tends to stay out of the Black Friday craze so you really can’t save more money on BF than any other day.

Home Depot

Quick Recap: Price ending in .06 and on a yellow price tag means it is a clearance item and has 6 weeks until next markdown. After that six week period it will be marked down to .03 which means 3 weeks until the item is liquidated.

  • Almost every Dad loves new tools for Christmas. Use the crack the code info and shop for tool and hardware gifts starting right now. You’ll save much more than if you wait for “Holiday” deals.
  • I was just in my local Home Depot over the weekend and was quite impressed with the number of yellow tags I found in the tools/hardware department.
  • You’ll find some good Black Friday deals on tools at The Home Depot but few of the deals will be as good as the yellow tag deals ending in .06 and .03.
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: No. I highly recommend skipping Black Friday at your local Home Depot and instead shop the couple weeks before Christmas and shop the yellow tags. You’ll not only save more money, but you’ll find more sales as they try to cash in on last-minute shoppers.


Quick Recap: .00 is full price, .99 is first clearance markdown price, .97 is final clearance and price will get cut in half every 2 weeks. The absolute lowest price an item can get is $2.97.

  • When I was filming my “Crack the Price Tag Code” segment with Good Morning America we walked into a JCPenney and I quickly realized that I’ll be doing a lot of my Christmas shopping with them.
  • They keep their clearance section in the far back of the store and it’s usually stocked with great gift ideas like housewares, dishes, apparel, heating blankets, silverware, linens, and pillows. I am totally going to shop for my Mom at JCPenney this year. Like starting right now.
  • Look for items ending in .97 and if they have a bunch of any particular item, wait a week or two, come back, and the item’s price will be cut in half. No joke, it will be. Try it for yourself.
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: No. The Black Friday ad at JCPenney’s usually has some good deals in it, but from our research, none as good as looking for items ending in .97. It is also worth noting that the JCPenney coupons we receive at are typically not good for clearance items making it pointless to wait for a Black Friday/Cyber Monday coupon to crack the price tag code.


Quick Recap: Look at the digital price tags at Kohl’s, particularly in the upper right hand corner. If you see a “NM” it means new markdown and the item will go on sale that night or the following morning. “GV” means great value and is a limited time price drop. “S” is simply a sale item.

  • While the NM can be somewhat elusive, the great value (GV) can be found fairly easily. Look for the GV and only Christmas shop in those sections of the store. By doing so you’ll save a minimum of 25% off your purchase.
  • Also, be aware that you can use a Kohl’s printable coupon on ALL clearance items. So be sure to stack a coupon on top of your clearance purchase to save close to 50%.
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. Because the Kohl’s coupons we get for Black Friday and Cyber Monday will also be good for clearance and “great value” items it is definitely worth your time shopping on Black Friday.

Office Depot

Quick Recap: Price ending in a 1 (example: $18.21) is first clearance markdown, ending in 2 is second clearance markdown, ending in 3 is third markdown, price ending in 4 is the “holy grail” and represents the final markdown price and the absolute best value at Office Depot.

  • I have it under solid authority that Office Depot marks things down every 7-10 days. So if you’re shopping for gift ideas and stocking stuffers and they have an item at the first or second clearance markdown wait and come back.
  • By Christmas shopping early you’ll have plenty of time to come back and get items only when the price ends in a 3 or 4.
  • Items that present the best buying opps when cracking the price tag code are as follows: Basic office supplies, small electronics, printers, software, packing supplies, and desk organizers.
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. Office Depot is notorious for unloading some great clearance deals on Black Friday. Shop on BF and instead of fighting over the door-buster deals, head for the clearance sections of the store and crack the price tag code for better savings.

Old Navy

Quick Recap: Prices ending .47, .49, .97, and .99 denote a clearance item at Old Navy.

  • The single best day of the year to shop at Old Navy, for both gift ideas and the ability to stock up for the following year, is Black Friday weekend. The autumn clearance deals are pretty darn amazing starting Black Friday morning going through Cyber Monday evening.
  • My wife and I use this info to our advantage and annually venture out to stock up at Old Navy on items ending in .47, .49, .99, and .97 for our 3 kids. We buy a size or two up and store items for the following year.
  • We easily save 65-80% off the original retail price on pants, sweaters, dress shirts, outerwear, and dresses.
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. The real value of shopping on Black Friday at Old Navy is taking advantage of the clearance deals. In-season styles are typically not that great of a deal. Plus, Old Navy typically offers some great clearance coupons on Black Friday that you can stack for even more savings.

Sam’s Club

Quick Recap: When shopping at Sam’s Club check out the letter in the upper right hand corner of the shelf tag and look for the “C”. This means the item is cancelled and is a clearance price and thus provides the best value.

  • Similar to Costco, Sam’s Club stocks quality brands and products across the board.
  • So if you’re Christmas shopping for your sister and she needs a new crock pot, go to the one with the “C” in the upper right hand corner of the price shelf tag.
  • I have had loyal Sam’s Club shoppers do the research for me and the “Cancelled” item almost always provides savings in the 25-35% range.
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: No. Sam’s Club does NOT have more “Cancelled” items on Black Friday than any other day. So you’re better off going shopping on a less popular shopping day to avoid the crowd.


Quick Recap: .99 is full price, .97 is a discontinued item on clearance, and .88 is the final markdown price at Sears.

  • Where in the store should you look for the items ending in .97 or .88? This always works best in the Tools section as well as in Electronics and Appliances.
  • So when shopping for tools for Dad, or a new TV for your honey, always look for items ending in .88. The price will typically be close to 30% cheaper than
  • Last year I was able to shop on Black Friday weekend at Sears, walk past the crappy door-buster deals, and head straight for the brand-name TV ending in .88. I found a 42″ Panasonic LCD that was at a final markdown price along with a in-store BF sale where I could take off an additional 20%. It was 25% cheaper than Amazon and Best Buy.
  • Are you considering buying an appliance or TV for someone on your gift list? In addition to cracking the price tag code, be sure to learn how to successfully negotiate an even better deal at Sears.
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. Take advantage of additional Sears coupons and clearance deals on BF, head into your local store, and then crack the code for maximum savings.


Quick Recap: Price ending in .99 is full price. .88, .98. 24, .04 is a clearance item. Check out the upper right hand corner of the clearance sticker for the tiny little number. It will say 15, 30, 50, 75, or 90 and that represents the percent off the original price. Clearance items get marked down every 10 to 14 days at Target.

  • When Christmas shopping, the best departments in Target to crack the code are: Electronics, apparel, shoes, small kitchen appliances, housewares, and linens.
  • When looking for bargain gift ideas, always look for items where the store has many in stock. By doing so, you’ll be able to start shopping early (like right now) and use my crack the code info to your advantage.
  • I was told by a Target employee that they mark items down every 10-14 days. So if the store has a bunch…wait and come back and nab your savings.
  • This obviously works best when you aren’t shopping for specific brands but rather shopping for the best value.
  • Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. Because of the influx of clearance and sale merchandise at Target on Black Friday weekend you’ll have significantly more opportunities to crack the price tag code.

Ask the Reader: Have you been able to crack the price tag and save money this year? I’d love to hear how my resource is helping you save.

By Kyle James


Halloween Coupons: Check Out the Spooktacular Savings

October 2, 2014 by Kyle 1 comment   •   Filed Under ,

As a Dad to three “Trick or Treaters” I know how expensive it can be to outfit them with costumes and accessories. Then you may want to buy some Halloween decorations for the house…there is another chunk of change. So with this in mind, I put together this article to document a bunch of great Halloween coupons we have been given so far. I know we will get a bunch more in the next [...] Continue Reading…


October Buying Guide: 10 Things To Buy Right Now

September 30, 2014 by Kyle 2 comments   •   Filed Under , ,

As we head into Fall, many retailers are trying to roll out Summer and seasonal merchandise, as well as make room for new models, creating some great deals on certain products. Here are the 10 best deals to be had right now.

Large Appliances
When it comes to large appliances like washers, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers, October is a great time to buy. Manufacturers always unveil new models in the winter, making October the key month to unload [...] Continue Reading…


Frugal Hack #24: Order Online, Return Item to Store, Save Serious Money

September 26, 2014 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

So this Frugal Hack comes from a new reader here at (who also happens to be a distant relative), which is WAY cool. Long story short, she scored a pair of $85 Silver brand jeans at Macy’s for $4.99!

So how the heck did she do it?

She was shopping at her local Macy’s and well, why don’t I just let her explain it in her own words…
“Wanted to let you know of a great deal I scored [...] Continue Reading…


Have you ever been shopping online and thought to yourself how cool it would be to get those shoes, jeans, blender, (or whatever it might be) sent to your home for free so you could try them on and check them out in person? Then if they didn’t fit, or you didn’t like it for whatever reason, you could return them for free? How cool would that be. Well, today I’m here to tell [...] Continue Reading…


Looking for Work? Know These 60+ Employee Discounts

September 17, 2014 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

Are you looking for work? Maybe a part-time job while you go to school, or perhaps something seasonal for the holiday shopping season. Part of your decision on where to apply could very well hinge on what kind of employee discount the retailer hands out. After all, if you like the store enough to regularly buy stuff from them, you stand a good chance of actually enjoying working there. I was pretty darn impressed [...] Continue Reading…


Frugal Hack #23: 5 Ways to Get the iPhone 6 For Next to Nothing

September 12, 2014 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under

There is no doubt that the Apple iPhone 6 looks like a pretty amazing smartphone, especially the 6 Plus. Some pretty cool features for sure, especially the big ol’ screen and Apple Pay. Although, I have some news for you Apple loyalists, my new Android MotoX has had that feature for quite some time, it’s called Google Wallet and it’s pretty darn cool.

But anyways, if you consider yourself an early tech adopter, and plan to get [...] Continue Reading…


Last December, I was quoted in an article in The New York Times talking about how consumers can negotiate the price at major retailers. No longer is this a practice left for garage sales, car lots, and local “Ma and Pa” shops. If you are a bit nervous about being turned down or looking like a cheap fool, don’t be, as the act of negotiating a better price is becoming much more mainstream as [...] Continue Reading…


The Master List: Good and Bad Buys in September

August 27, 2014 by Kyle No comments   •   Filed Under ,

As we enter early September, it’s a great time to make certain purchases. After all, one of the best ways to save money is to time the market on certain items so you remain in the driver’s seat in terms of negotiating power. It is with this in mind that I present the best and worst items to purchase in September.

The Good Buys in September:
Holiday Airfare
~ Will you be traveling home for Thanksgiving or [...] Continue Reading…