Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and is typically considered the “kick-off” to holiday shopping. Stores usually offer deep discounts and open earlier than normal.
Shopping on Black Friday is not for the faint of heart. You need to be prepared to wake up early, stand in long lines, and battle massive crowds. While there is risk of damage to your person via elbow-jabs and people pushing for no reason, what you should really worry about is the damage to your pocketbook.
Black Friday is a great opportunity to save a lot of money on Christmas gifts if you know what you’re doing. Follow these tips to avoid potential pit-falls like overspending and overbuying.
1. Stick to a List.
Make a list of everyone you’re shopping for this year, and if possible, add a general idea of what you want to buy that person. Then when you come across a great deal on an item, you can scan your list to see if you have someone to buy it for. If you don’t have anyone to buy it for, pass up the deal and wait for a deal on something you are shopping for.
2. Stick to a Budget.
It’s so easy to get carried away during the holidays and overspend. Whether you have a per-person budget or an over-all budget, set one and stick to it. Even if the item is an amazing buy, if it breaks your budget, it’s still too expensive.
3. Keep Track.
Make a list of everything you purchase, so you don’t accidentally buy for the same person twice, or buy two of the same item. With all the holiday chaos, you’re much more prone to forget things. Write it down or create a word doc to help you remember.
4. Beware of Peer Pressure.
During Black Friday you’re going to be rushing to get the best deals. You’re also going to assume that everyone else is doing the same thing. You might see a bunch of people rushing and grabbing for an item that you don’t have on your list and be tempted to buy one too. After all, they must be going crazy over it because it’s a great deal! Not true – just because a bunch of people are going after an item doesn’t mean it’s a good deal – especially if it’s an item you don’t need. Stick to your list and don’t let peer pressure get you sidetracked.
The majority of your Black Friday savings is going to come from pre-planning. Yes, you can pop into your nearest store and save a few bucks, but if you’re purchasing big-ticket items, you need to do your research. Read reviews and compare prices to make sure you don’t waste your money on a cheap product just because it appears to be a good deal.
If you’re wanting to buy a specific laptop, you’ll want to go to the store that has it on sale first. The smaller items on your list can wait because they have a smaller savings return. But be careful of items that have a very limited quantity available. If the ad says something like “minimum 5 per store” then you probably won’t want to waste your time on those items. Make a list of the stores you want to visit and organize them by store opening time and priority items.
7. Price Match.
Many stores will price match on Black Friday! There’s no need to go to several stores when you can shop for all your items at one store. Be sure to read your store’s policy carefully, most will only price match identical products.
8. Shop with a Friend.
Teaming up with a friend will not only make shopping more fun, it will save you time! Perhaps your friend could head to the electronics section to get the camera she wants and the DVDs you want, while you head to the toy section to pick up the board games you want and her LEGO sets. It’s a win-win!
9. Be Nice.
Please, please, please don’t be a rude shopper. Let’s all be adults and not push, call names, or snatch items from others. You’ll have a lot more fun if you go out of your way to treat others with kindness than if you let every little annoyance affect your attitude.
10. Shop Online.
Many Black Friday deals will be available online as well, and some will even go on sale on the website before they do in-store. I find shopping at home in my pajamas much more appealing than standing in long lines in the cold and battling other shoppers. You can even wait until Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of Black Friday. The deals are just as good, if not better! If you plan on taking this route, be sure to read my Cyber Monday Online Shopping Tips.
Do you have any Black Friday shopping tips that you’d like to add?
This post was originally published on November 21, 2011.