5. Being low-tech.
Smart phones are changing how we shop. Scores of consumers are following their favorite brands and retailers on social networking sites likes Twitter and Facebook, and retailers are taking full advantage. It's much easier for businesses to launch and retract deals online where matching inventory with demand is less of a challenge. Coupons and last-minute offers can arrive as e-mail alerts or through social network accounts. Smart phone apps like Coupon Sherpa also provide in-the-moment help. It enables iPhone users to search coupons by category or store name, and find the nearest location. According to Deloitte Research, nearly one in five shoppers plans to use a cell phone during the shopping process.
6. Extended warranties.
Here's when to buy an extended warranty, says Greg Daugherty, executive editor of Consumer Reports: "Basically never." The manufacturer's warranty should protect you against any defect for up to a year, and the cost of protection beyond that generally isn't worth it. Instead of wasting anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars on an extended warranty, put some extra cash in your emergency fund to help cover possible repairs or replacements.
7. Black Friday blunders.
Black Friday can be a shopper's dream. But long lines and overzealous crowds can really wear you down and make it harder to spend wisely. So map out a plan in advance and read the fine print on early-morning doorbuster deals. At 5 a.m., you may have a slim chance of landing the lone 45-inch flat-screen TV offered at one store and much better odds for the less spectacular bargain down the road. Planning is important throughout the shopping season. Check the website of each store you plan to visit for the latest bargains, and make a list of what you want to buy from each store.
8. Gift card gaps.
Give gift cards another look if you've spurned buying them because of fees and other issues. Thanks to recent rule changes, this is the first holiday season in which any gift card purchased cannot expire for at least five years. What's more, inactivity and other fees are banned in the first year. Still, you should beware of buying gift cards through online auction sites or classified ads. They may be counterfeit and could have been obtained illegally.