It's the most plunderful time of the year!
Welcome to Black Friday -- the busiest shopping day of the year, an annual ritual of coupon-clipping, app-downloading, line-enduring madness. This day after Thanksgiving, we're transformed from turkey-carving couch potatoes to cart-wielding sprinters, and it's enough to make even the most patient shopper want to stay home! But no need: These 10 tips will help you score deals on Black Friday -- sanity intact.
Make a List, Check It Twice
As the deluge of ads, fliers and emails descend, the list of stuff you want to buy on Black Friday is growing. But as much as you might want a new laptop or flat-screen TV that also makes coffee and does your taxes, you don't really need it. To keep from buying things you don't need, make a list of what you do need before you head into the store -- and try to stick to it.
Prioritize and Strategize
Black Friday is a consumer free for all on a national scale. On this day after Thanksgiving, you want to play nice; but it's you versus every other shopper -- and time time is not on your side. The hottest deals on the most coveted items get scooped up the fastest. That's why you need to prioritize the items on your shopping list from most to least important. Head to the store that has the item you most want first, then go to the other stores.
Stalk Your Prey Ahead of Time
You've got big dreams and a lengthy list, but are you ready for the realities of Black Friday? What happens if you can't find that TV on your list, can't master the art of shopping cart NASCAR or can't navigate through the hordes of sale-addicted shoppers to the cashier? To avoid this, go to the store ahead of time to locate the items you want and the quickest path to the register from there.
Set a Budget
You'll be giving your bank account a workout over the holidays. It's important to create a budget and not get pulled in with all the seemingly great deals around you. Going over-budget with your credit card and accruing interest on those purchases can erase what you've saved, so stay within budget and avoid overspending simply because items are on sale.
Most shoppers are still struggling to digest their Thanksgiving meals -- or have sworn off eating altogether -- as stores open their doors in the wee hours of the morning. But as the day wears on, you're burning calories, so keep yourself fueled up with coffee, tea, energy bars and trail mix. Just make sure these are things that you've brought along with you: The last thing you need is another line to stand in.
Dress for Success
Black Friday shoppers spend about half of their time standing in the cold and the other half sweating out sweet potato pie as they hustle through the aisles. This can be a shock to the system, so think layers. Wear a t-shirt under your sweater or coat -- and make sure you can tie your coat or sweater around your waist so you don't have to run to the car to ditch it. Or clean out your closet and find clothes you don't mind ditching in a pinch: Black Friday was never about looking good.
The thrill of the hunt is very real, and finding that last deeply discounted gaming consul can make you feel like you've taken down a grizzly with your bare hands. On the flip side, watching someone else reach for said gaming consul can make you downright angry (how else to explain how you ended up at the makeup counter applying war paint?). To avoid a fight, take a deep breath, count to 10, and walk away. You don't want to end up on YouTube.
Wait Five Seconds
Black Friday is a spider web of savings, and you're a fly -- one likely to get caught in multiple spots on the web. Stores can't offer those insane Black Friday savings on big-ticket items without making money off other products that you impulse-buy while in the store. To avoid snatching up those unnecessary items, practice the five-second rule: Before you put anything in your cart wait five seconds, during which time you ask yourself "do I really need this?" Most of the time, the answer is no, so just walk on by and live to shop another day.
Don't Get Swept Up in Black Friday Mania
It's easy to get blinded by Black Friday savings, caught up in a mad grab for the last TV, the final laptop. But 'tis the season to practice good will to our fellow man -- and you're hardly invoking "The Gift of the Magi" if there's security camera footage of you plowing through a crowd of grandmas. So take a deep breath and tell yourself that stores have sales multiple times a year, and, well, there's always Cyber Monday ...