These days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become synonymous with epic shopping and discounts that are almost too good to be true.  Are you taking advantage of these golden dates of deals shopping each year? Before going on a mad dash to the retail store or mouse-clicking frenzy, be sure to do your research first. You might find better deals on Cyber Monday or perhaps Black Friday has offers that keep your wallet a little less stretched.

A small caveat to place on Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday specials – don’t buy for buying sake! Buy because it’s useful, resourceful and above all, necessary! Make sure you do your research, and a few days before starting, look for the promotions with those products and resources you’ve deemed important enough to purchase.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday falls a day after Thanksgiving (a US holiday which falls each year on the fourth Thursday in November) which signals the start of the US holiday season. The term Black Friday first appeared in print media in 1966 to refer to the shopping frenzy that caused the streets in Philadelphia to overcrowd. Schools and businesses are closed a day after Thanksgiving except for the stores. This resulted in the massive pedestrian and vehicle traffic jams as people rushed to the stores to shop. The Philadelphia Police Department soon referred to the mayhem that caused them so much problem, as Black Friday.

Sometime in the 1980’s, however, the term was given a new meaning. Black Friday came to represent the point when the US accounting books go “in the black” from being “in the red”. In other words, it is the time in the year when retailers start to make a profit. Black Friday then became an event for shoppers in the US as well as an indicator of how well retailers will do for the rest of the holiday season.

What is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving Day. Started in 2005 by Shop.org, Cyber Monday became online stores’ answer to the brick-and-mortars’ traditional Black Friday.

But why Monday and not Saturday or Sunday? Well, back in the day, it was only at the office that one can access fast computers with high-speed connections. It was more convenient, therefore, at that time to do online shopping while at the office than doing it on a weekend at home. The online stores recognised and took advantage of that fact, so Cyber Monday was established.

With laptops, tablets, and smartphones enjoying faster internet connection, Black Friday and Cyber Monday today enjoy billions of dollars in worldwide online sales.

So, which is offers the better deal, Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Due to the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the opportunities quickly spread to businesses overseas, and the expectation now is that many businesses will run Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, regardless of where in the world they are.

Choosing which day is better to find great deals depends on what you are looking to buy. If you can stand and brave the crowd of shoppers, Black Friday in-store shopping may be for you. “Door Busters” on Black Friday traditionally offers great discounts on electronics like televisions, tablets, and smartphones. Black Friday is also a great time to hunt for best deals on home goods and kitchen appliances. But, be prepared to rise early…some shops will open doors as early as 5am to cater for the enthusiastic bargain hunter.

Although you can also find Black Friday deals online, Cyber Monday usually is when you find awesome discounts, especially on tools and services that are not often offered in a ‘sale’ situation. Where products are sold, they often come with free shipping to further sweeten the deal. Electronics and communication tools are a bargain on these dates as often businesses are looking to move stock before Christmas and new year’s products become available.

The best way to make the most of the hottest deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to do your research and plan ahead. Some places to go to and research on upcoming deals are Argos.co.uk, CyberMondayUKDeals and Pocket-Lint for a list of nice deals on various gadgets. Make a list of your favourite sites (bookmarked or written) and keep that with you as you search for deals. You may also get updates on the up-coming Cyberweek by signing up for email newsletters of your sites that are exclusive to followers. You may want to sign up around 1 month prior to make sure you are getting the notices. You can then unsubscribe once the sales opportunities and deals notices have passed if you don’t want to continue receiving updates.

Good luck with sourcing those amazing deals and savings. Be wise with your spending, do your research, and don’t get caught by impulse buying.