How To: Survive Black Friday – Part II

By Lauren Sharkey

Yesterday, we talked about the questions you should ask yourself before going Black Friday shopping.  Well, once you’ve answered all of them (honestly), it’s time to prepare yourself for what you’re going to be facing once you get out there.  Here are some of my tips for making this Black Friday as painless as possible:

THE SAVVY STUDENT’S SIX STEPS FOR SUCCESSFUL SHOPPING

1.  Have a Plan

Before braving the cold (and the madness), you need to have a plan.  You have to know where you’re going, what you’re buying, and how you’re going to make it all happen.  If you’re going alone, map it out in your head – are you going to need to go to the ATM before you leave in the morning?  Are you going to stop for coffee?  These are things that must be figured out BEFORE you leave the house.

Also, if you are lucky enough to have friends going with you, take a look at everyone’s list.  If there’s enough of you, think about splitting up.  Last year, I went to Best Buy with two of my friends – I stood in a massive line while they went and got everything and met me there.  And, while we were at Best Buy, my brother was at Target getting something for my Mom.

Sometimes things can get confusing though – the night before, we had to sit down with our lists and give the right amount of money to who was going where to get what.  Also, my friend ran out of money at GameStop – thankfully we all use Chase and were lucky enough to use Chase QuickPay to send him more in a pinch which brings us to STEP 2:

2.  STICK TO THE PLAN

As stated previously, Black Friday is all about getting what you need and getting out as soon as possible.  Black Friday is not a time to browse the sweater section at Old Navy.  Black Friday is not about “checking out that one thing over there for a quick second”…STICK TO THE LIST.  If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the cart.  This is not only a way to save money but a way to save time.  Do not get trapped by impulse buys…you might not make it out alive.

3.  Do your research

Once you know who’s getting what (and from where), do research on the items on your list.  In our Best Of: Money Saving Apps, we included lots of great apps (and websites) you can use to make sure you save the most amount of money.  While lots of stores are running Black Friday deals, many are running even bigger promotions for Cyber Monday (December 2nd).  So just check to make sure you absolutely have to go to the store.

4.  Clip Coupons/Print Online Coupons

Even though lots of stores are running sales and promotions, there are coupons in the newspaper (or online) that can get you extra savings.  Be sure to print any and all coupons you might need for the stores you plan on shopping at.

5.  READ the coupon

As a former retail employee, I can’t stress this enough – if the coupon says it can’t be combined with any other offers…that means it can’t be combined with any other offers.  If the coupon says it’s only good until 10am, that means it’s not good at 10:30am.  Avoid holding up the line and getting into an argument with the sales associate – they’re already working on Black Friday…help ’em out 🙂

6.  Let It Go

Sometimes, no matter how well you plan, how early you leave the house, or how fast you run…things happen.  Items sell out, lines take too long, etc.  Just take a deep breath and remember that there will be other sales, other deals, and that Christmas is about being with the people you love…not what’s under the tree.  Black Friday is a great way to save money on lots of the items you want to get for your loved ones, but don’t let it turn you into a crazy person.

Between waiting in line, not being able to find what you’re looking for, and forgetting where you parked, Black Friday can go from really fun to really annoying.  But just remember to take a deep breath and roll with the punches (hopefully, not literally) and remember that Christmas is about a lot more than coupons.  And if that fails, just remember there’s always Cyber Monday!

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