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Black Friday: Finding the Best Deals

Nov 25, 2013 10:45PM ● By Erin Frisch

Black Friday is approaching (cue the theme from Jaws). If you plan to brave the crowds, it’s not too soon to plot out a strategy for finding the best deals! With a little planning, you’ll be sure to successfully navigate the chaos and make the most of this traditional kickoff to holiday shopping. Here are some great tips.

Planning Is Everything

The key to success on Black Friday is to have a plan. While some people enjoy the thrill of the hunt, tearing out of your home in the predawn hours without a strategy and a list is likely to result in frustration and wasted time and gas, not to mention standing around in the cold if your first stop isn’t open when you arrive. If you’re crawling out of a warm bed the day after Thanksgiving, make it worth your while. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your Black Friday excursion:

• Use the targeted approach. Before you start looking at sales flyers and deciding which retailer to hit first, create your shopping list. Then prioritize this list and add a dollar amount (estimates will do) of what you are willing to spend on each item. This will keep you focused on the task and help prevent overspending. Not to mention that if you haven’t decided what you want to buy, you’ll have a harder time deciding where to shop!

 Seek out information. Get a Sunday paper on the weekend before Thanksgiving Day; it will be one of the heftiest of the year, packed with all the holiday circulars and ads. Your mailbox too will probably be a treasure trove of advertising on the days before Black Friday. But why wait? The savvy shopper can harvest plenty of sneak peeks online, long before the turkey goes in the oven.

Check the sites. Check for your favorite shopping destinations and be sure to check your local retailers’ sites as well. It’s great to keep it local, and your hometown retailers will have some fabulous deals, saving you time and fuel as well as money.

Organize your information. You’ll want to compile the information you’ve gleaned from these sites. Note the store, opening times, sale prices, coupons, and any other data pertinent to your shopping trip. It’s too much info to store in anyone’s head (especially after ingesting turkey the previous day), so write it all down. Now you’re ready to formulate your plan of action based on this information. You no doubt already have a pretty good idea about where to go and what time to get started.

Review print ads on Thanksgiving Day. When you’re too full to do much else, check over all the ads and flyers you’ve collected. Clip any coupons and ads for items you have on your list, and put them in a see-through plastic bag for convenience. It’s even a good idea to toss it in the car so you’ll have it when you peel out in the dark to hit the shops.

• Finalize the plan. Now you can put all the pieces together and map out your exact route, using your clippings, flyers, and maybe your smartphone to guide you. Make sure you note opening times and prices carefully. Pay attention to how you have prioritized your list, and read the fine print on ads. Some stores may carry a limited number of certain items, and if these happen to be at the top of your list, you’ll want to start at these retailers. Map out a route that has you hitting the stores closest to each other first, so you don't spend a lot of time driving around instead of shopping.

Finding the best deals on Black Friday and returning home safe  and sane requires doing your homework and some advanced planning. And now that you know how to do it, you’ll have a successful trip, and maybe even some fun along the way. Good luck, and may the force be with you!

What is your game plan for Black Friday?

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