Now that it’s about to be Thanksgiving, it’s time to start preparing for Christmas shopping. One of my favorite times to shop is on Black Friday! Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for shoppers and it can be overwhelming and exhausting. For the past several years I have been a frequent Black Friday shopper. If you’re anything like me, you know how hectic it can be trying to get the best deal. Standing in line for one sale item is difficult in itself. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way to make it a little easier when you’re trying to catch the sales.
Prepare Early. If you have kids you know that their Christmas list changes. If they’re anything like mine, I receive a new Christmas list up until a week before Christmas. However, in most cases the items that are repeated is what they really want. To help, I ask for a Christmas list in October considering additional items will be added. I usually listen to family and friends in simple conversations throughout the year, to know what they may want or need. Once you have your list and ideas it’s time to figure out an estimate cost.
Set a budget. Not only is Black Friday good for gifts but also can help with the cost of décor, entertaining, and other holiday related expenses. The key is to have an idea of what you plan to spend. If possible double the numbers to allow more funds available for cushion, just in case of an emergency. Once you have a total cost, you’ll have a better idea of if it is affordable. If not, prioritize your list from most to least important. It may be a good idea to set a dollar amount on friends and family to stay within your budget.
Do your research and compare prices. As a frequent Black Friday shopper, I’ve noticed that the majority of items stay within the same price range each year. For your convenience ads are available online a few weeks prior. This helps you prepare instead of waiting until the Sunday before Thanksgiving. One popular app I use each year is “BlackFriday.fm.” If you know the stores you will shop at, check hours and start times of their sales. Depending on the items you’re shopping for compare prices. For example, if you’re searching for a new TV it may be best to review, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target. Keep in mind each store may start their sales at different times and figure out which one is going to give you the best bang for your buck!
Game plan. Now, that you have your list and have checked it twice and have set your budget, researched, and compared prices, it’s time to set a plan to be the first in line. If the item you’re after is a “Door Buster” you may be starting your shopping pretty early. Even if the store starts a sale at 6PM and you plan to be there at 5PM. Think again! Whatever time you set to head to the stores leave an hour earlier than that. Depending on how many items you plan to purchase, you may want to consider bringing a partner or two. Ideally you will need what I call a runner! This is someone who can go through the store and grab the non-door buster items. Lastly, you need a person that can tag team with you while waiting in line. Let’s be honest if your waiting in line for an hour you’ll need a break! Keep in mind if you plan to be in line or racing through the stores dress appropriately. In Ohio where I live, we have to be prepared for any and all types of weather.
Mental preparation and money. Whether you’re waiting in a line or maneuvering through the stores, it can be frustrating. Always stay calm; people can be rude and inconsiderate when trying to buy items that are limited. I found it convenient to use a specific purse for shopping and use a debit card. In most cases you may be spending a lot of money and it’s not safe to have that much cash with you. A debit card or credit card can be tracked and you have a better chance of recovering your money.
With any sale expect the unexpected. It’s a chance the item you plan to purchase may be sold out or priced differently. One thing I experience every year is the store maps that are provided online are completely different when you get there. If all else fails, you still have “Cyber Monday!” Christmas shopping is hectic whether it’s Black Friday or the day before Christmas, so with that being said use your instincts, shop smart, and be safe. Happy Holidays!