When the dedicated holiday shoppers set their sights on Black Friday, the goal is to maximize the value of their dollars and minimize the amount of time spent going to and fro in search of the gifts on their holiday list. This list will show you some of the best ways to walk away from the Black Friday chaos relatively unscathed physically and financially.
Experienced Black Friday shoppers know where to look and when to go, but even they overlook important ways they can save time and money during the frenzy. A general rule is to lower your expectations if you choose to avoid the mob that crushes people at the head of the line against the glass doors or metal gate.
Here is your early holiday gift.
1. Devise a plan.
If you are going to be out and about on Black Friday, you will not be able to hit every store and every sale, whether you go online or mill around at the physical stores. Without a plan you may find out that not only did you exceed your budget, but you ran out of money. There are often unadvertised specials in stores, so to avoid wasting time and spending more money, map out where you are going to go and what you are going to get. Set your sights on the items that you will save the most on and go for those first.
2. Maximize your use of social media.
Twitter is more likely to benefit you than other social media sites, but it also may depend on what you are looking for. If you are not yet on social media, now is a good time to start. You can follow the brands and specific items you are looking for by adding the manufacturer’s account to your list of people and companies to follow. Stores may make changes overnight, so become aware of what you are looking for, ideally on multiple social media networks.
3. Control your credit use.
Virtually everyone knows that Black Friday is a great way to max out one or more credit cards. It makes zero sense for you to save $200 on Black Friday, only to see that money paid to the credit card company in interest over the year. Using cash is the number one preference, and should you need to pull the plastic from your wallet, keep track of your spending. Consider bringing only one or two cards with you to avoid running amuck trying to save money.
This usually is done by seeing if an online merchant’s prices are lower than those in a physical store. But retailers have wised up and now have matching price offers or in-store specials that actually beat online prices. The statistics say that while more people are buying online each year, the actually dollars spent online only amount to less than 20% of all holiday spending. Just because something is available online doesn’t mean it is a cheaper price than you can get at a local store.
5. Be first in line.
You may not be one of those people, but there are many people who actually enjoy the holiday crush, especially on Black Friday. Stores, both online and the brick and mortar type, have started a trend where early shoppers can get special gifts or added discounts – usually limited to the first 100 or so buyers. Know when the store that you want to begins their Black Friday sales and if possible, get in the front of the line.
6. Don’t go it alone.
This applies mostly to physical stores but can be an online strategy as well. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, find a fellow Black Friday friend and keep a look out for items your friend(s) are trying to buy. If you go alone then you can only be in one aisle at a time. Bring 5 friends and everyone can know that 4 other aisles are being shopped through, where someone else is looking for their specific sales items. Think about this as a part of your planning strategy.
7. Don’t forget the coupons.
You might think that Black Friday sale prices are low, but searching online for coupons that you can use in combination with their Black Friday offer is a definite money saver. Many stores will tell you upfront that no coupons can be used on the Black Friday sale items, but the only way you will know is to check by calling. The coupon itself may restrict you applying it to a purchase, so read the terms and conditions carefully. This needs to be done before venturing out because the last thing you (and the customer service people) need to do is get in a dispute about whether a coupon is legit. Besides, the time you spend arguing is put to better use buying.
8. Look beyond Friday.
Just because the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year doesn’t mean stores will run out of everything or stop having sales. Amazon devotes a Monday strictly for sales on technology items. Also remember that despite all their preparation, stores can get it wrong. An item they expected to fly off the shelves ends up being a dud, but they will not immediately know that. Their dud may save you even more money than expected.
9. Remember it is all about competition between stores.
Most people think of Black Friday as the day to beat everyone else to the sale and scurry away with their booty. What is obvious but mostly overlooked is that the stores aren’t offering sales because they want to be nice to you. They are selling at lower prices so you come to their store and not their competitors. Some items, such as the higher priced items, give you the opportunity to get a price that is lower than the sale price if you use your negotiating skills and some patience. You are likely to achieve this goal from independent stores rather than chain stores.
10. Stick to your list.
Moving away from your plan and taking all your credit cards with you is a primer for spending more and saving less. Do not think that because you are online you will not mentally wander over to another area of the store and find something that qualifies as a “nice to have.” Finding that cute knickknack that would be great in your kitchen often ends up in a box, in the attic or basement, waiting for you to find it 5 years later and wonder, “Why did we buy this?”
So that is the list. Not enough can be said about the value of planning, and once you have a plan your shopping will be more organized and save you more money. And even though this article us about saving money, remember to have fun while shopping. Black Friday is only one day in the holiday shopping season, and there is no point to remembering it as the worst day of your life.