Planning Your Holiday Tech Shopping

The team over at dealnews recently posted a great piece help you prepare for that most important of holidays, Black Friday. But Black Friday is hardly the only time you'll be bombarded or tempted by sales, deals and limited time offers this holiday season. With a little planning and a little discipline, you can save some money and get the stuff you really want. Here are a few other strategies that will help you get more bang for your buck:

What Do You Really Want? What Do You Really Need?
Just like when you were a kid, make a list of the things you really want or need. There will be plenty of items that cross your screen that will tempt you. It helps to have a list handy to keep those temptations in perspective so that you don't blow your funds on impulse buys.

Do Your Homework
Once you have your list, do the research to find out which products and models meet your needs. It is easy to add "Bluetooth speaker" or "camera" to the list...but which Bluetooth speaker or camera? Figuring out which one(s) meet your needs, or at least the feature set that you're looking for, will help you quickly evaluate that deal that is good for "a limited time only."

If you're looking for a specific make or model of a product, note its current street price now. Then, when a sale price or deal comes your way, you can evaluate the reality, not the hype.

Forget The Percentage, What's The Price?
I love the sale emails that scream, "50% off!" Sorry, I'm not impressed. What is the actual price and is it worth it? And 50% off what? While not common in the tech arena, it is not unheard of to see a crazy high "retail" price, and then see amazing "deals" on that basis. Be sure that the bottom line price is worth the product.

And don't forget shipping. A good price isn't good if the shipping wipes out the savings. Be sure you're looking at the bottom line price, including shipping, before buy.

Returns
Double check the return policy if you're ordering from a site or store you don't usually do business with. Restocking fees can end up costing you money or encouraging you to keep a product you don't really want. Having to jump through multiple hoops to return an unwanted or non-working product usually isn't worth the savings. And sometimes, these extra special sales are "no returns." As the old saying goes, "Let the buyer beware."

Use Your Tech
Instead of looking for deals, let them come to you. There are plenty of sale and deal sites out there - pick your favorites and let them help guide you.

For my money, literally, dealnews and their more Apple/tech-centric site, dealmac, are the gold standard to measure all others by. Their Twitter accounts, RSS feeds, iOS apps and email alerts will keep you up-to-date on what's available when, all in the comfort of...wherever you are. Looking for something specific? You can sign up for custom email notifications based on criteria you set.

When I see something that I think is a particularly good deal, I will post it to my Twitter feed, so follow me if you want to know what catches my eye...and my cash.

Of course, MacVoices will have our own holiday gift picks to help you narrow the field and find the best of the best, so watch for that too.