When it comes to holiday shopping, there’s no day quite like Black Friday. In fact, some people wait all year for that one day when prices are low, crowds are large, and it’s “game on” for shoppers.
“For people who love to shop, Black Friday is pretty much the Super Bowl of spending,” says Sandy Keeney, a retail business consultant in Cincinnati, Ohio. And like the Super Bowl, you can’t go into it unprepared. “You really need to put together a strategy beforehand, or you’re going to end up spending more than you expected and maybe not always get what you wanted,” she says.
Follow these Black Friday tips to make that busy day of shopping — and the days that follow it — more fruitful and affordable.
Make a Plan
There’s a lot of ground to cover on your post-Thanksgiving shopping adventures, so your best bet is to know in advance what you’re going to buy and where you’re going to buy it.
“That’s probably one of the most important things to do in advance,” Keeney says. “You have to know what you’re looking for, where you’re going, and even when you plan to be at each store.”
Make a list and plan your trip. To be most efficient, visit the closest locations to your home and try to go to stores that are in the same general area. Lots of shoppers will be out there at the same time you are, and it’s critical to have a well thought out strategy to keep you on track.
Use Your Apps
Lots of apps can make your shopping trips easier, and if you’re not using at least one, you’re missing out. Apps like ShopSavvy, Shopular, and Flipp are among the reputable shopping choices that deliver up-to-date coupons and news on deals from your favorite retailers to your mobile device and more.
With the right shopping app, you can organize your wish list, keep track of what you’ve bought (and what you still need), and make sure you’re getting the best deals. Don’t overlook individual store apps, either. Most large retailers offer their own apps to help you snag additional savings.
You don’t necessarily have to be in the thick of it to get some great deals on Black Friday. Save time and money by skipping the lines and shopping online.
“Some people can’t imagine not going out on Black Friday, but there’s a lot to be said for staying inside and doing it all online,” Keeney says.
Some of the advantages of doing your shopping online include having access to more stores, not being limited to the inventory in a store, and not having to battle crowds and look for parking spaces. Many stores also offer special online-only deals, so while you may not get the big-ticket loss leaders that many brick-and-mortar stores use to draw in more customers, you can finish up with some great buys.
When you’re shopping online, you have an advantage that in-store shoppers don’t have: instant price comparisons. Use a price comparison tool to make sure the advertised “hot” deal is really the best deal. PriceGrabber is one source for comparing website prices, but there are many others out there that are worth considering as well.
Follow Your Faves
If you have particular brands or retailers that you adore, following them on social media can pay off. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all great ways to find out what your favorite stores are doing for holiday sales. This can be particularly true for smaller retailers and boutiques, who may not have the big budgets to spring for traditional advertising.
Ignore Your Impulses
There’s a lot of temptation out there on Black Friday and the days that follow; finding a way to ignore the hype is half the battle. Go shopping with a list and a plan, stick to it.
Make a list of who you’re buying for and what you’re going to get them. Sure, it’s fine to have a couple of options, but a list that just says “something for each of the nieces and nephews” is much less effective than one that identifies what each gift will be.
As you’re shopping, ignore anything that’s not on the list, even if the price appears to be slashed. Some items that may initially appear to be a great deal might not be as hot as you think. If you haven’t already researched the item and don’t know for sure that it’s a great deal, it’s not worth the risk.
Use Your Points
If you have rewards cards from a certain store or earn points on your credit cards, this is a great time to use them. Look at which credit cards offer the best rewards so you can earn cash back on your purchases. However, when you use credit cards, make sure you can pay off the balance the next month, or the interest you pay could be greater than the rewards.
This is also a time when you can take advantage of zero percent financing offers on credit cards. Sign up and take advantage of the 12- or 18-month no-interest deals. But, again, be sure to pay it off as quickly as you can. Certainly before the zero percent APR expires.