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      How to Make the Most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s Tech Deals

      Thanksgiving weekend means quality time, stuffing, pie, and, of course, some of the best shopping deals of the year.

      After the leftovers are put away, it’s time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Whether you’re looking to simply cross a few gifts off your list or spend big bucks on a new TV or computer, it’s a good idea to do a little pre-gaming.

      So whip out that wallet, power up your laptop, and follow these 12 strategies to score the best deals.

      Before You Carve the Turkey

      Do Your Homework

      While Cyber Monday used to just take place on — you guessed it — Monday, it has become so popular that many retailers stretch it out for as long as a week. Some sites have different deals every day (even by the hour!). That’s why it’s crucial to come up with a game plan before you load up your browser tabs with your favorite e-tailers.

      While many shops keep sale details under wraps until the big day, often a little digging online will bring up leaked ads or specific roundups on shopping sites so do your homework.

      If you haven’t started browsing yet, you might be behind — according to the National Retail Federation, more than half of holiday shoppers begin planning their gift list in October or earlier.

      Know if the Price Is Right

      Some “price drops” on Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t actually deals at all. It’s common for stores to raise their prices just before the big days just so that they can “slash” them. That’s why it’s important to know the going price of the items on your list before the holiday shopping frenzy rolls around.

      To start tracking prices, you can’t go wrong with a classic spreadsheet. There are free sites that help you do the work too, such as Finery and Shoptagr, which will alert you when an item you’re watching goes on sale. There’s even a price tracker devoted just to Amazon: camelcamelcamel.

      Similarly, try to do some comparison shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to ensure that you really are getting the lowest price. The Google Shopping app is an easy way to measure prices and inventory.

      Connect With Brands

      Many brands have their own newsletters (by the way, do you want to sign up for DreamHost’s?) and now’s the best time to add your email address to the list. They’ll often share special deals ahead of time, exclusive offers, and codes for bargains like free shipping. And if you’re really into snooping out savings, follow your favorite brands on Twitter or Facebook.

      Make a List

      It’s too easy to get carried away when you’re snagging great deals that are only available for a limited time. To avoid falling into the “sale trap” — and the buyer’s remorse that comes along with it — create a list of the gifts and items you actually need. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to also write down how much you expect to spend for each item or person, since going into debt for gifts doesn’t put anyone in the holiday spirit.

      Use Bookmarks

      Often there is only a limited amount of products available for rock-bottom deals on Cyber Monday, so to make sure you’re first in that virtual line, bookmark the pages with the deals you’re interested in so that you click on them the second the sale starts and reach the page instantly. Even a few seconds can give you an advantage when millions of people are shopping.

      On Black Friday and Cyber Monday

      Hit the Sales Early

      We’ve all seen those viral videos of people lining up at big box stores before dawn. While you don’t necessarily have to wake up before the roosters, it’s a good idea to get there early. To make sure you don’t miss a deal online, set calendar reminders for time-sensitive deals, especially for products that will be low in inventory.

      Go in Person

      It might seem like Cyber Monday has the upper hand over Black Friday, particularly when it comes to electronics and tech, but that isn’t always the case. Many stores offer in-store exclusives so you’ll have to show up in person to get the prices that aren’t always matched online. Another bonus of dropping by a brick and mortar store? Many have surprise deals that aren’t advertised anywhere else.

      Read the Fine Print

      If a deal is a limited-time offer or you’re afraid your cart will be emptied out before you have time to check out, it’s easy to get a little trigger happy. And impulse buys are a lot more tempting when less dough is at stake. But when discounts are deeper than usual, that sometimes means that the usual customer service rules don’t apply. Be sure to find out return policies before you commit to a deal. After all, if you get stuck with something you can’t return, it won’t be a deal in the end.

      Stay on the Safe Side

      If a deal on a site you’ve never heard of is too good to be true, there’s a chance it really is. Around the holidays, phishing emails and scams become even more common. If a deal in an email looks suspicious, instead of clicking on the links in the email, go directly to the website offering the sale. Big name stores and brands are your best bet when it comes to online safety.

      While You’re Checking Out

      Have Everything Ready to Go

      When deals are hot, e-tailers will commonly give you a countdown for how long you can keep something in your cart. Or it may sell out before you even have time to whip out that credit card. To prevent that, have your card ready by your side, and even better, create a profile on the site before Black Friday and Cyber Monday to speed up the checkout process. If you have discount codes, make sure those are ready too so that you can quickly type them in without having to scan your email or scour the internet for coupon codes.

      Give your website a home for the holidays. Sign up for DreamHost today!

      Don’t Forget About Shipping Fees

      That flat screen TV online is an amazing deal — until you’re checking out and see the insane shipping fee. Few things are more disappointing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday than to find out that the shipping costs more than the item itself, which can be the case when it comes to larger items.

      And remember: just because you can buy something online doesn’t mean that it will be shipped to you instantly. Items often sell out quickly, meaning that it could take weeks to get restocked. Before you buy, look at the shipping dates to ensure it’ll arrive before the holiday.

      Save Receipts

      Even if you’re shopping in person, not every store will give you a print receipt. Decide in advance how you want to track your spending and keep a record. Whether you opt for old-school receipts or an email version, store them all in one place, particularly for high-ticket purchases, in case you need to make a return or exchange. If you decide on email confirmations, have them all sent to the same email address and create a folder to stash them together. Not having to scroll through all your emails will save you major time later.

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      SingleHop Women in Tech: Martina Saracevic, Director of Inside Sales

      I sat down with Martina Saracevic, Director of Inside Sales, who will be celebrating her seven-year anniversary with SingleHop in May. Continuing our Women in Tech series, Martina answered my list of defining (and admittedly loaded) questions with the frankness, insight and passion we’ve all come to expect.

      What did you want to be when you were a kid? Did you know you would be in Tech or Sales?

      I have always been organized and detailed, almost obsessive compulsive. I liked to have a good understanding of what the process looks like and what I can expect down the road. As I started my career and built sales relationships, I was comfortable explaining in detail the process and product, which is especially important in tech. Clients need to understand what the day-to-day of being a SingleHop customer is like, and how that is different from their current experience. So, Tech Sales seemed like a natural fit.

      Who are the people that have mentored you or been role models?

      My first inspiration was my father. My mother and father came here as immigrants in the 1990’s when the war broke out in Yugoslavia. They went from being highly educated individuals that were working in architecture and geology to bringing themselves up from the bottom. They teach me to value every dollar and that everything in life requires hard work. They are definitely my rockstars.

      If I looked all the way back, there was a fifth grade teacher that mentored me to be visionary about the future. Long after I graduated primary school, he would advise me on which classes I should take in high school, where to go to college (Go Ramblers!).

      As I was starting my career, I worked at a startup. The VP of Sales there, Mike Zobitz, who later came to SingleHop and hired me on, became on of my role models. He taught me that sales doesn’t have to be strict. It can be fun, for both the sales rep and the customer. You can enjoy coming into work and it can be relaxing as long as you know what your goals are.

      TJ Waldorf has been a role model for me due to the amount of dedication he has for his role. And I can see that he has a process in place about where he wants to be at the end of each day, and that gives me passion. These days you don’t see a lot of people who devote that much dedication to their careers anymore. At least I don’t. Younger generations seem not to want to make a commitment; they want to rise to the top without making the contribution. And TJ is the opposite of that. Even as he moves on to a full-time marketing role, I will be using him as a mentor. I appreciate the thought and effort that he puts into every decision he makes.

      Does gender make a difference in the Tech workplace?

      I think gender does make a difference. It makes a difference for our customers. Men and women have varying points of view. And I think that’s a positive! We may think through a very specific scenario in different ways, which opens up alternative solutions for the client.

      I have been in this industry for over seven years, and I am definitely happy about seeing more and more women in the workforce. In the early days, it felt like you were living in a man’s world.

      What do you love about your role in tech?

      In the early days, I was under the impression that “we were just selling servers,” but when you really look at it we are supporting businesses. It is a good feeling to know that you are helping small or enterprise companies to be more efficient. We are the backbone of that business and of their success. And your individual impact can encourage that success as you provide opinions and thoughts about how they can be even more efficient and successful in terms of what their technology and revenue goals are in the next 6 or 12 months.

      What are some of the lessons you learned along the way?

      Use all your team members. Rely on all your resources. You can never be the smartest person in the room. Allow everyone to bring their strengths and knowledge to the table.

      What are your thoughts on work-life balance and being a mom plus a rockstar at work?

      There is no work-life balance for working mothers. If you are a working mother, whether in the tech industry or other, it is what you make it. Every day is going to be chaotic and I think that is just normal. If you have a significant other that understands your goals or you have mutual long-term goals then you both will make it work. There is no way to have it all, and you just need to come to terms with that. If you are ok with not having it all, then you move forward; and if you are not, then you need to change something in your life.

      When things get too hectic, or I need to be rebalanced, cuddling up on the couch with my four-year-old, watching a movie, and having “us time” – that is what brings me back. It is what refuels me to make sure I am ready to go on Monday.

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