8 Signs you need to go shopping

8 Signs you need to go shopping

“I need to go shopping!” said every woman, ever. We’ve all said or heard it, and we all know that when it comes to clothes, the word ‘need’ is grossly overused.

So how to tell the difference between wanting to treat yourself to something cute and an actual need for new clothing? Let’s visit a few scenarios where ‘need’ might actually be used in the literal sense.

1. It’s Easier to Dress for Halloween

Go-go boots? No problem. Sequins and feathers? You’ve got plenty. While your Halloween game may be as strong as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 90’s, you’ve still got 364 other days to worry about. It’s totally fine to keep some stellar statement pieces tucked away in your closet, but try relegating them to under 1/10th of your sartorial collection. Once you’ve cleared away the baubles, it’s time to work in some new goodies for those days that don’t require a costume.

2. Your Friends Won’t Borrow Your Clothes

Let’s try a little test, shall we? Invite your most stylish friend over and offer her full access to your closet. If she politely declines or tries to change the subject, it’s time to upgrade. The more uncomfortable she is, the faster you should run, don’t walk, to the nearest mall. If you’re not quite sure where to start, bribe your friend with churros to come with you. Works every time.

3. You’re Twinning With Your Pre-Teen Niece

Sure, twinning is in, but dressing identically to someone who has yet to pass her driving test? Not so much. While keeping a youthful attitude is something to be applauded, your wardrobe should reflect a general age range – yours! If you can spot every piece you own at a One Direction concert, you might be ready to work in a few new items.

4. Your Shirt Has Its Own Twitter Account

If you wear the same article of clothing too often, there’s a chance people might end up knowing you more by your shirt than anything else. And when your shirt is more famous than you are, that means it’s time to expand your regular outfit rotation. Here’s a great rule of thumb: if your shirt is in more than three of your social media profile photos, it’s time to swap in a few new options.

5. Climbing Kilimanjaro Is Easier Than Getting Dressed

If getting dressed in the morning feels like climbing a mountain, it’s time to rethink the process. Aside from lack of coffee, the culprit to sartorial stuckness can often be not having the right items for your everyday routines. Work at an office? A new blazer can suddenly make a camisole work-appropriate. Meeting friends for brunch? Pair that cami with a new maxi skirt, and you’ve got a totally different outfit. Bring on Kilimanjaro, you’ve now got the outfit for it!

6. You Wore Your Nicest Dress to Prom

While that pink one-shoulder tulle gown may have scored you a slow dance with the cutest boy in school, it might not work the same magic at a wedding or cocktail party. Say sayonara to ‘Prom Queen’ and hello to ‘Best Dressed’ by kissing that prom dress goodbye and scoping out a sizzling LBD. Not only are you set for any last minute events, but the jaws will hit the floor at your next high school reunion.

7. You Have Nothing to Wear

Your bedroom looks like an atomic bomb went off, with garments strewn across the floor in a fit of desperation. You’re sitting in the middle of a large pile of clothes, lamenting that you have nothing to wear. Sound familiar? You’re not alone! While you obviously have the ability to clothe yourself from the piles of despair that surround you, they’re just not the right clothes. So what do you do? Ditch those suckers for some snazzy basics you’ll want to wear over and over again.

8. People Think You Own One Pair of Pants

Keeping a uniform a la Steve Jobs is definitely efficient. Having to explain to everyone that no, you don’t just own one pair of pants but several pairs in the same style and color, is not quite as efficient. Adding a few new pairs to your wardrobe should help keep those rumors at bay. Which means you can get back to being the visionary you truly are.

Disastrous myths about your credit score

Disastrous myths about your credit score

Contrary to popular belief, paying bills on time is an overrated part of your financial reputation.

People are obsessed with getting and keeping an excellent credit score. We hear these statements regularly on our financial helpline:

A caller who can’t pay their monthly bills because their debt payments are so high says, “I can’t go to credit counseling because I heard it will damage my credit score.”

A caller who is not saving in their 401(k) and missing out on the company match says, “I don’t want to pay off my credit cards. I am keeping a balance to help my credit score.”

This makes no financial sense. People aren’t going to seek help getting out of debt — lowering the interest rate and possibly the balance owed — because it will hurt their credit score? How is this helpful? If people don’t get their debt under control, they may never retire. We’ll have a nation of people working into their 80’s with no savings but they can all come together and brag about their credit scores.

Let’s examine some of the biggest credit myths that can lead to disaster:

Assuming if you pay your bills on time, you don’t have to do anything else. Paying your bills on time accounts for about 35% of your credit score but there is another 65% which includes amount owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%) and type of credit (10%). Consider all of the other factors.

Also remember that there may be errors on your credit report so if you don’t check it, you’ll never know and your score will be affected. According to Deborah McNaughton, author of The Get Out of Debt Kit, 80% of credit reports have errors (as cited by Bankrate.com). Many of the erroneous reports had missing information that may boost a score, such as missing a revolving account in good standing, or miscellaneous incorrect information such as an incorrect birthday.

Check your credit report. Credit reports are unique to Social Security numbers, so if you are married, you may want to stagger your requests with your spouse every six months. You can also request your actual score for a onetime fee (which is less than $15 through most credit bureaus). Most credit monitoring services will provide your score for free when you sign up for their service.

Assuming when you divorce, your accounts automatically divorce with you. They don’t. If you have a joint account and one of the parties on the account is late, you are both late. With some types of loans, such as a mortgage or a car loan, the lender may not accept a letter asking you to be removed from the account after a divorce even if that property is going to your ex-spouse. They will need to qualify for the loan on their own before you will be removed from the account.

Take this into consideration because if they don’t refinance, and then have late payments, you may find yourself with some credit issues. When possible, close all joint accounts and refinance any debt separately. If it is not possible, maintain some type of control, whether it is an escrow account or at least access to information to make sure the accounts are paid in a timely manner. Don’t assume. Also see the last point about closing accounts.

Avoiding consumer credit counseling because it will hurt your credit score. For someone with serious debt, working with a not-for-profit credit counseling agency to develop a debt reduction plan and get out of debt permanently should take priority over credit scores. Credit counselors will work with your creditors to try and reduce your monthly payments, or settle your debt altogether. Debt settlement doesn’t affect scores as badly as you would think. In fact, many people don’t realize that late payments affect scores more than a debt settlement. Here is an example of how a debt settlement can affect credit scores, and how that compares to late payments.

A late payment hurts your score more than a debt settlement if your score is in the 680 range; it only significantly pulls it down if you are in the 780 range. Let’s be honest here, people ready for credit counseling probably don’t have the highest scores anyways, and the bottom line is credit scores are fluid — they can be rebuilt. According to Credit.com, a debt write off can stay on your credit report from seven to ten years, but as the information ages, so does its negative impact.

Making late payments aren’t that big a deal. According to FICO, a 30-day late payment can affect your score by as much as 110 points. Late payments can have a huge impact on your credit score causing it to drop like a stone. This is one disaster that is relatively easy to avoid. Simply set up all of your accounts with an automated minimum payment schedule from your checking account. This way you’ll never miss a payment. You can always pay additional amounts through online banking. Set yourself up for success with this one because it can be an easy one to miss and makes a significant impact.

Closing accounts to clean up your credit. Closing an account may be a good idea if you only opened the account to get a discount on merchandise or have too many credit cards which is causing confusion, but it won’t clean up your credit or help your score. In fact, it can hurt your score when the account you close has a long credit history — especially a good one. Your credit history accounts for 15% of your score, so in making decisions which cards to keep and which ones to close, keep in mind how long you’ve had the account open and close the most recent ones first.

Are credit scores important? Yes, but they are not the “be all and end all.” Now that we’ve dispelled some of the biggest myths, consider what the “be all and end all” is for you. What are your biggest financial challenges and concerns? Our latest research shows that less than 18% of employees feel they are on track for retirement.

Are you part of the 82% that isn’t? Do you have a personal net worth statement and is it going in the right direction? The point is when you focus on the important financial issues, you have a chance to meet your financial goals. Clean up your credit if you have to, and do your best to keep a good credit score, but let’s not go overboard and lose sight of everything for just one number.

Tips for smart shopping from the Internet

Tips for smart shopping from the Internet

People are surfing the Internet in growing numbers. Internet offers a wide range of exciting opportunities. But you should remember to take the same type of precautions as you do when you shop and communicate in the offline world. Before you decide to enter personal information on a website, or make a purchase online, here are a few tips to remember:

Deal with companies you know by reputation or experience. If you aren’t familiar with the company, do your research. Find out where they are based, and what their policies are on issues such as privacy and security. Do not do business with a company that doesn’t list a physical address or telephone number on its website. When dealing with international vendors the risk is higher. Different laws and standards apply and it may be difficult to get local authorities to act on your complaint if you feel a vendor has dealt you with unfairly.

Know exactly what you are buying. When shopping in a retail store you have the added benefit of handling the product and seeing the person who is providing the service – benefits that are not available when shopping online. Look for a vendor that provides enough information for you to properly evaluate what you are buying, including details such as the size, colour, weight and texture of the product.

Tips for smart shopping from the Internet

Know what you are paying. The final price for online items is often considerably different from the listed price. Any reputable vendor’s website will calculate the shipping and handling costs for you before you make a final decision to purchase an item. Before agreeing to a purchase, do the math and figure out what the price will be in Canadian dollars. Most people fail to accurately convert the value of currencies and they end up paying more than they hoped as a result.

Additionally, Canada Customs will calculate and add GST to the cost of most purchases made outside Canada. The agency will also charge you an inspection fee for doing so that may be more than the actual GST on small purchases, such as books and compact discs.

Look for a privacy policy. Be sure that you are comfortable with how the company collects, protects and uses your personal information before submitting any details. Responsible marketers have an “opt-out” policy, which allows you to choose whether your information is shared with third parties. Also look for the opportunity to decline to receive any communication by email.

Make sure transactions are secure. Do not enter any financial information if you see a broken-key or open padlock symbol on your Internet browser. This means that the transaction is not secure and could be intercepted by a third party. When the key is complete or the padlock is locked, your browser is indicating a secure transaction. Remember, unlike secure order forms on a website, email messages are not private. Do not send confidential information by email.

Check for endorsement by an association or a quality assurance program. There are several “seals of approval” for websites that confirm the credibility of the company and the website. For example, the Canadian Marketing Association member logo signifies a company that abides by a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which includes a comprehensive privacy policy and a section on responsible Internet marketing.

Read the fine print before you buy. Make sure you understand all contractual information presented online before agreeing to purchase, including the policy on fulfillment, returns, warranties, etc.

Avoid spam (unsolicited commercial email) by being careful about disclosing your email address both on and offline. Check a company’s privacy policy to find out whether your email address could be shared with other companies. CMA members will not send you marketing email without your permission and will give you the option to decline to receive further emails at any time.

Talk to your children about online activities. Instruct them to keep their personal information private unless you say it’s ok.

Smart boots warms up using a mobile app

Smart boots warms up using a mobile app

A new “smart boot” can warm up cold feet, thanks to a built-in heating system controlled by a smartphone app.

Called the “world’s first luxury heated smart boots,” the footwear will work with both iOS and and Android headsets, connecting over Bluetooth. Wearers of the Lundí boots can adjust the temperature of the smart footwear by using a temperature slider on the mobile app.

According to the maker, the boots will warm up in less than a minute, depending on how cold it is outside. The warmth comes from a heating element embedded within flexible cushions in the boots.

The battery is said to last for seven to eight hours, and can be wirelessly charged using a special boot shaper that is similar to the cardboard inserts supplied with most new boots. It takes around 1.5 hours to fully charge the battery, makers say.

Crafted from leather, the boots include a covered wedge heel and are water-resistant, while the heating system is entirely waterproof.

The makers of the Lundí smart boots are seeking funding on Kickstarter, with boots available for $649.

Once the high-tech boots go into production, the full price will be $775. If the funding target is reached, the first boots are due to ship in November 2016.

Four ways to save $100 every month

Four ways to save $100 every month

Two frugal experts reveal how to shave 15 percent off your monthly utility bills.

Imagine spending just $20 a year — or less — for yearly telephone service. Or, perhaps you’d be interested in shaving 15 percent off your monthly utility bills. Two frugal experts say you can do it.

Everyone looks for simple ways to save, especially in today’s tumultuous economy. Bankrate asked two frugal bloggers to share their thoughts on some nearly effortless ways to hang on to your hard-earned green.

If you take their advice to heart, you’ll likely save at least $100 a month around the house.

Rethink Your Phone Service

Fed up with expensive telephone bills? Jonni McCoy, author of the Miserly Moms website, recommends switching to an alternative phone service like magicJack or Skype.

Such services allow you to make local and long-distance calls for a fraction of the price of traditional phone service. For instance, magicJack customers can get phone service for as little as $19.95 a year, while Skype calls are free to other Skype users.

“These are good alternatives to (traditional) phone service, and they include long distance, so no extra card is needed,” McCoy says.

Customers nervous about dropping their traditional phone carrier have other options for saving money.

For example, consider canceling long-distance service from your phone carrier and using calling cards instead, says Susan Palmquist, creator of money blog The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to the Universe.

Need a second phone line? In this case, a service like magicJack works well, because it’s “much cheaper than adding a second line to your existing phone account,” Palmquist says.

When it comes to your monthly cell phone bill, save money by cutting down on your minutes and switching to a more basic plan. Palmquist recommends switching to a pay-as-you-go cell phone.

Cut Down on Electricity

Each month, utility bills silently drain a little more cash from your wallet, preventing you from building a sizable emergency fund or retirement nest egg.

There are several ways to trim these bills. Three quick and painless ways to save include: switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs (which are more energy-efficient than standard light bulbs) lowering the temperature on your hot water heater (130 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to kill germs) and drying your clothing on a clothesline or rack whenever possible.

McCoy and Palmquist also recommend signing up for any incentive or rebate programs offered by the local utility company.

With these programs, you typically agree to allow the power company to briefly shut off certain appliances when energy demand is particularly high. In return, you get a credit on your monthly bill.

For example, customers who participate in Florida Power & Light’s On Call Savings Program allow FPL to install a small device on their water heater and air conditioner compressor. This allows the utility company to periodically borrow electricity for 15 minutes or so.

Palmquist — who lives in Minneapolis and gets her power from Xcel Energy — does this and gets a 15 percent discount on her bills.

Conserve Water

Are you drowning in monthly water bills? Palmquist and McCoy recommend money-saving options such as washing all clothing in cold water.

“I use cold water to wash clothes, and recently read that using the delicate cycle also saves water, too,” Palmquist says.

In some cases, saving cash actually goes hand in hand with superior performance, Palmquist says.

“We installed a low-flow shower head in the main bathroom and find it not only saves water, but the flow is better than the old one,” she says.

Of course, another “no-brainer” way to save is simply to use appliances less frequently. Wait until you have a full load before running the washing machine, dryer or dishwasher.

Don’t overlook water-saving tips for outside the home. Palmquist plans to invest in a rain barrel for outside watering next year. Meanwhile, McCoy recommends making changes to landscaping “so there is less lawn to water.”

Bundle or Drop Cable and Internet

McCoy suggests saving money by bundling cable and Internet services. Palmquist agrees, and recently switched to an “economy package” for her TV service.

However, Palmquist says it’s important to look before you leap into bundling.

“Sometimes it’s more expensive and they can lock you into a two-year contract, so check out everything first,” she says.

If you’re really gung-ho about saving, simply drop cable altogether. Perhaps you can watch your favorite TV shows for free on an Internet site.

Or, maybe it’s time to simply give up those expensive TV habits and think about the priorities that really matter to you.

“My main advice is to think about wants and needs,” Palmquist says. “Many of us think something’s a necessity when really it’s just a want.”

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10 Things Not to Buy During the Holidays

10 Things Not to Buy During the Holidays

Is there a new television, tool or bicycle on your holiday shopping list? Hold on there. While you can find many great deals during November and December, you’re better off making some purchases at other times of the year. Here are 10 items that are even cheaper before or after the holidays.

Televisions

Prices have plummeted over the past seven years for some amazing flat-screens and big-screens. But if you really want to give that special someone the gift of HDTV, you might want to wait until February. Retailers will start lowering prices on last year’s models before new models start hitting the stores in March. The best deals follow the Super Bowl in early February. You could save a few hundred dollars.

Linens

Wait for “white sales” in January before buying sheets, blankets, towels and more. The tradition of department stores discounting linens in January started back in the 19th century. Now, even some catalog retailers follow suit, offering deals in their issues that come out at the beginning of the year. Look for discounts ranging from 10% to 60%.

Tools

Dad always has a list of fix-it projects to tackle around the house, but the holidays aren’t the best time to score deals on new tools. Consider giving tools as a gift for Father’s Day in June — when prices will fall by 25% — instead of Christmas. Frugal Dad will be happy you saved the cash.

Snow Blowers

The Winter Solstice is the worst time to buy a snow blower. In cold, wet climates, March is the month for purchasing this big-ticket item, says Mark Di Vincenzo, author of Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There. You might really appreciate a back-saving snow blower before winter’s heaviest storms arrive, but you’ll appreciate even more the 30% to 40% savings you’ll find as winter ends.

Cameras

Sure, it would be nice to give your spouse a new camera to take pictures of the kids throughout the holiday season. But you might want to wait until February for a better deal. The biggest electronic trade shows of the year happen in January and February, when new models are revealed. By late February, older models are being sold at discounts of 30% or more. Look for Presidents’ Day to be an especially good day to shop for sales.

10 Things Not to Buy During the Holidays

Outerwear

February and March are the ideal months to pick up winter outerwear, such as coats, hats and gloves. Retailers realize that most people have already bought their winter clothing by then, so you can take advantage of discounting to fill your closet for winters ahead.

Furniture

Maybe you want to impress visiting relatives over the holidays by sprucing up your living room. But hold off on buying that new sofa. New furniture inventory hits showrooms in February, so look to save 10% to 50% if you buy in January, as retailers push to clear the showroom. Old models tend to be just as good, using the exact same frames as the new.

Cars

Forget the notion of a car in the driveway on Christmas morning. Instead, think New Year’s Eve (during business hours, of course) to get the best deal. Car dealers want to clear their inventory before the end of the year. TrueCar, which collects automobile data, estimates prices on all vehicles nationwide will average 9.3% below sticker price on December 31 — the steepest discount of the month.

Looking for a used car? Hold off until April for the best deals because it’s the month that dealers tend to buy the most at auction, giving you the best selection.

Cruises

The cold weather creeping up may spark thoughts of escaping to far-off, warm destinations. For those who want to hit the seas, though, booking a cruise is best after the holidays. Wait until “wave season,” which is January to March, to book a summer cruise, says Jaime Freedman, of TravelZoo. You’ll be met with an onslaught of deals as cruise lines compete with one another for customers. Rising airfare prices have made cruises increasingly enticing with their all-inclusive pricing, says Freedman.

Bicycles

As the riding season winds down for most people, you may think that bicycles are ripe for discounts. And you’re right, if you just wait a little longer, until after the holiday season. After the holiday rush, discounts are steep on older models. Shops are also more likely to throw in a few extra free accessories because they are looking for business during the slow winter months. Better yet, fewer customers means you’ll get more personal service.

Black Friday becomes Black Week this year

Black Friday becomes Black Week this year

Retailers have turned the one-day bonanza into a week’s worth of hot sales.

…There may be just one Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — but retailers are offering deals pretty much every day this week. “It’s become Black Friday Week,” says Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center of Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Like Super Bowl Sunday, the main event is later in the week, but everyone is gearing up and excited now.” Not all the best discounts, however, are saved for the big day, and shoppers who stick to Black Friday may find they’ve missed out, she says. “Smart shoppers will be looking every day.”

The wider spread of sales throughout the week, both before and after Black Friday, has another advantage for shoppers. While stores typically suspend their price matching policies on Black Friday, most will meet a competitor’s advertised deal on other days this week. They may also offer a credit on an item recently purchased for the difference between the purchased price and new sale price, says Edgar Dworsky.

But there’s a catch, say retail experts. Many of the deals are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them opportunities which are available for a few hours, or until a limited supply runs out. Here’s what to look for each day now through Cyber Monday:

Tuesday

Many stores have already kicked off their Black Friday countdowns, offering one-day deals that come close to — or in some cases beat — their Friday prices, Mitchell says. Best Buy, for example, had a 55″ LG LED HDTV Monday for $898, a 31% discount and $100 cheaper than a planned Samsung door-buster for Black Friday of comparable quality. Amazon.com launched its Black Friday deals site Nov. 1, and has new offers each day this week. A number of stores, including Lowe’s and Home Depot, are promising that Black Friday prices are already in effect, Dworsky says.

Wednesday

Big pre-Black Friday sales, including those from Newegg.com and Target wrap up on Wednesday. Shoppers also may benefit from waiting until midnight, when many Thanksgiving online-only deals could go into effect, Dworsky says. Since most retailers have specified turkey-day deals, but haven’t offered details on availability, it may only be worth it if you’re already up late making the pies. “Last I checked, Nov. 24 still had 24 hours in it, so you could wait up for nothing,” he says.

Thursday

Shoppers stuffing the turkey at 6 a.m. may find their time waiting for the bird to roast well spent shopping. Kmart will be open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m., and Best Buy plans to release a number of online-only sales that day. Gap Inc. plans to open 1,000 stores — including 800 Old Navy stores and a number of Gap and Banana Republic outlet stores — for limited hours on Thanksgiving. “We know from the receptiveness of Thanksgiving hours over the past two years that many consumers want the ability to jump-start their holiday shopping,” says Louise Callagy, a spokeswoman for Gap. She says Old Navy will offer 3D glasses for shoppers to spy hidden games, messages and extra discounts around the store.

On the later side, Toys R Us will open its doors for Black Friday at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, followed an hour later by Walmart. But leaving in time to get in line may require cutting Thanksgiving celebrations short. Mitchell suggests double-checking the ads to see which in-store-only deals (if any) are worth ditching the family.

Black Friday

More deals are rolling in at midnight this year, with retailers including Kohl’s, Target, Best Buy and Macy’s pushing forward the usual 5 a.m. store openings. Online shoppers will find plenty of deals at that time, too, with online-only deals and some of the same door-busters that are available in stores, says Andrew Eisner, the director of content for Retrevo.com. Despite waning interest from consumers, Black Friday is still one of the best days of the year to get bargains, he says. Anticipated deals include a $200 42″ Sharp LCD HDTV at Best Buy, and a $350 HP laptop at Office Depot. But shoppers must also contend with very limited quantities of those deeply discounted items, as well as some misleading sales on older items that aren’t the latest technology, Eisner says. Many of the sale Blu-ray players, for example, require shoppers to buy an extra WiFi adaptor, while laptops tend to have older, slower processors.

Shoppers have added incentive to keep their mobile phone on hand this year. Stores including Bon Ton, Macy’s and JC Penney have said they plan to have more mobile coupons available. Toys R Us announced last week that it will offer shoppers who check in on Foursquare special “swarm” deals including $50 off the $170 Imaginarium City train table and 40% off the Incredible Edibles toy line.

Saturday

Big-box stores will continue some of the same sales they offered on Friday, with a different round of door-busters. Given limited inventory this year, shoppers shouldn’t count on these items being in stock, says Dworsky. You may find deals on items that are less likely to sell out. Sears, for example, has a door-buster of 30% off Kenmore Elite appliances until 1 p.m. on Saturday as well as $200 off a broad range of Craftsman tool sets.

It may be worth browsing mom-and-pop shops, too. Many are participating in American Express’s “Small Business Saturday.” The card company is offering a $25 credit to shoppers who register their card and spend $25 at a small business that day. Plus, many stores are offering their own deals, including 20% off at McNally Jackson Books in New York and up to 25% off designer denim at AB Fits in San Francisco.

Sunday

Savvy shoppers should check out eBay in the early morning hours, says Tim Dubroy, a spokesman for eBay market data firm Terapeak. “We noticed a couple of years ago that sales are higher on the Sunday after Thanksgiving than on the Monday after,” he says. eBay sellers scanning Cyber Monday ads often price their items competitively. Last year, for example, a Dell Zino HD desktop sold for an average $340 on eBay on Sunday — $9 less than the Dell.com Cyber Monday price that several gadget blogs touted. Sellers also matched a $399 Amazon.com deal for a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 digital camera. For the best deals, bid or buy before 2 p.m. Eastern, when prices rise as more shoppers head online, Dubroy suggests.

Monday

“There’s been so little talk of Cyber Monday this year that you have to wonder if it even exists,” Dworsky says. The National Retail Federation reports that 45% of retailers plan to offer a coupon or percentage-off sale, about 38% will have a limited-time promotion and 30% will offer free shipping on some orders. (In comparison, last year 49% had special offers, 41% offered one-day sales and 22% had free shipping on all purchases.) Still, it’s worth browsing the sales, if not necessarily waiting for them, he says. AT&T plans to offer several smartphones — including the HTC Inspire and the LG Thrill — for a penny when consumers sign a two-year contract, similar to a deal Amazon.com has scheduled for Black Friday weekend. Clothing chain Express offers 30% off all online purchases plus free shipping, which is 10% less than its Thanksgiving and Black Friday morning in-store offers.

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Black Friday Deal: Dress Your iPhone 4S

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Black Friday is coming early! Starting this weekend of November 5th, major retailers will begin offering “Super Saturday” sales as they count down to Black Friday weekend.

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