Quick note: If you live in SE Michigan, come check me out tonight at the Livonia Public Library at 7 p.m. Learn my favorite money-saving secrets and enjoy a good chance at winning some raffle prizes!
I’ll admit it — I’m glad Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the rear view. Because although there were some colossal deals this year, it’s exhausting to sort, track and share them all!
That said, you cannot imagine the Herculean efforts of countless CNET writers and editors, who’ve been doing all that sorting, tracking and sharing for weeks. To say this was a team effort is an understatement. I was a tiny cog in the much greater Black Friday machine, and my fellow deal finders deserve a ton of credit. (And a beer — next round’s on me!)
Before we dive into today’s deals, which are all about improving the products you might have scored during the past few days, let me pause to talk about charity. Today is Giving Tuesday, and even if your wallet is empty, you can. Please consider helping those less fortunate. It’s much quicker and easier than you think.
On to business. Did you score an awesome new toy during the sale madness of the past couple weeks? Let’s talk about some accessories you might want to add — and some surprisingly cheap ones at that.
You bought a new phone
It doesn’t matter if you spent $200 or $1,200 — the first order of business is a case. Because, let’s face it, gravity happens. Here’s what you shouldn’t do: Buy an expensive case from Apple, AT&T, Verizon or some other retailer. You may have bought your phone there, but cases are best sourced elsewhere.
My advice: Hit up Amazon and Ebay. Just search for cases for your phone model and you’ll find a dizzying array of choices. Hard cases, soft cases, clear ones, colored ones and so on. Even better, you’ll find lots of them priced around $10-15 — much better than the $30-50 you’re likely to pay in store.
Of course, putting your phone in a case doesn’t guarantee 100-percent protection against pavement encounters. The best protection is not dropping your phone in the first place, which is why I continue to champion Phone Straps (formerly Ninja Loops).
See it at Phone Loops
A mere $5 buys you a stylish strap that attaches to just about any phone case. Once you get accustomed to sliding your fingers underneath it, you’ll find it much easier to grip your phone — and you’ll be much less likely to drop it.
This remains one of my all-time favorite products. It makes a great gift, too, which is why you should buy at least three (which bags you free shipping).
Switch deals were everywhere this year — and often quite fleeting. Now that you have the console, though, you might want to consider a couple accessories — starting with a mobile charger.
The Switch relies on a USB-C input, though you don’t necessarily need a power bank that has a USB-C output. Those tend to cost a bit more, though they have the advantage of recharging your console more quickly than a standard 5V USB-A port.
Here’s a good option: The Omars 10,000-mAh Power Bank for $22.99 (minus a 5-percent coupon you can click to add). It features USB-A and USB-C outputs, the latter featuring 18-watt Power Delivery (PD) for fast Switch charging.
See it at Amazon
A lot of similar chargers sell for around $40, so this is definitely worth a look.
With the Series 3 selling for as low as $199, it’s no surprise that most stores sold out. Here’s hoping you didn’t also buy an extra watchband, because the Apple Store and other retailers charge a hefty premium for them.
How hefty? If you want a fancy Milanese Loop (a great way to dress up the watch, no question), be prepared to spend $149 (!) for Apple’s version. Nuts, right? Try this instead: Amazon seller Orobay offers a compatible Milanese Loop stainless-steel band for $10. No, I didn’t leave off a zero — 10 bucks.
See it at Amazon
I’ve tried a couple of these over the years; they’re great. Similarly, Apple Watch sport bands and other options can be had just as cheap (or cheaper) from Amazon and Ebay — and you’ll find considerably more styles than the handful available at retail.
If you scored thefor $120 (or less), congrats — I’d call that the headphone deal of the year. And you can make it even better by adding a Bluetooth adapter, which effectively turns your QC25 into the already-wireless QC35. But you still came out way ahead, because the latter costs $349 (and only dipped to $299 during all the sales).
Here’s a, which normally sells for $60 but can be yours for $45.
Thewas an amazing deal at $20, while the was arguably even more amazing at $24 (because it’s the current model — it’s since climbed up to a still-great $30 price).
The latter offers somewhat better sound than its predecessor, but both Dots are pretty weak overall. To really make the most of either smart speaker, consider pairing it with a bigger, better speaker.
Obviously there are countless choices out there — just make sure the Bluetooth speaker you choose doesn’t automatically shut off after a period of inactivity. (That problem tends to affect certain portable speakers.)
One option I particularly like is the Fluance Fi50, a robust bookshelf speaker with a retro design. It originally sold for $200, but you can get one now for $120.
See it at Fluance
A less expensive upgrade (for the second-gen Dot, anyway): Ninety7’s Vaux is a Dot speaker dock that also adds a rechargeable battery so you can easily move it around the house. It’s currently on sale for $29.95, though I’m not sure for how much longer.
See it at Ninety7
You bought a Fire TV or Roku streamer
The best accessory for your new streaming box or stick? Bluetooth headphones, so you can enjoy killer TV audio without disturbing your roommates. (I also find headphones indispensable when I’m exercising on a treadmill or elliptical, as I can actually hear the TV without having to blast the volume.)
You canor use Roku’s Private Listening feature with the headphones paired to your phone.
Here’s the thing: TV audio isn’t the same as music, so you don’t necessarily need fancy high-end headphones. I mean, they’re fine, but I’ve used super-cheap ones and been perfectly satisfied with the sound quality.
My advice: Check out CNET’s roundup of the best budget headphones for 2018. I also continue to be a fan of these wire-free earbuds from Blitzwolf, which are.
Bonus deal: Whew! Wait, you want another thing to buy? Okay, this goes with the Instant Pot you just bought, and hear me out because it’s a little left-field coming from me.
For a limited time, Amazon has the hardcover edition of Skinnytaste One and Done: 140 No-Fuss Dinners for Your Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, Air Fryer, Sheet Pan, Skillet, Dutch Oven, and More for $13.75. It’s been $18-20 since it went on sale last month. Update: Sorry to say it’s back up to $18.
See it at Amazon
Why this book? I have the two previous Skinnytaste books, and I’ll just say I’m a fan. Author Gina Homolka has a knack for creating delicious, healthy versions of popular recipes — and “healthy” here is not code for “bleh.” Quite the opposite. Many of these recipes have become Cheapskate-family favorites.
Bonus deal No. 2: One last thing. Staples has the Xerox Phaser 6022/NI color laser printer for $90 shipped. It’s not a multifunction, just a straight-up printer, but still one of the best deals I can recall seeing for a color laser. Price elsewhere: at least $170. I have no idea how much longer this deal will stay up.
See it at Staples
More good news: Replacement toner cartridges are going cheap. Here’s one seller offering a compatible set (four colors) for just $33.
Beyond that, I know zero about this model — so do your homework before buying. (That’s good advice for everything always, actually.)
CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our Twitter!. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and