Have you been disappointed by Black Friday in the past? It’s hard to score the right deals when the big day arrives, and you can leave with items you don’t really want – or nothing at all. I do the majority of my holiday shopping on Black Friday, but the real work is done weeks before Black Friday when I plan out my trip. Follow my tried and true steps to get the most out of Black Friday this year.
Set a Budget
Before I even get started on my shopping plans, I make sure I know how much I want to spend. I write down every person I want to get gifts for, and I put down my maximum budget for each person. For some adults, like my husband, I will agree on gift amount limit so that no one feels surprised by mismatched gift amounts. I suggest leaving a little wiggle room in your overall budget in case you have an unexpected gift need. I like to add another 10% to whatever I think I need to cover any surprises.
Make Out Your List
After my budget is set, I make out my shopping list for each person I am giving gifts to. This list is sometimes very concrete for some people, and for others, I might just write down ideas. Since I never am sure what will be on sale for Black Friday, I like to remain as flexible as possible. I like to get people the nicest gifts that I can afford, and the more gift ideas I have for each person, the better the gift can be.
Check Out Flyers Online
A few weeks before Black Friday, I find the flyers for every store I might like to shop at. There are many sites that post Black Friday sales ahead of time, and I usually just search for them in search engines. I comb through the sales carefully, noting down anything that I would potentially buy, along with the store and the price. After I have all my information written down, I look for similar and duplicate items to find which price is the best.
See What You Can Buy Online
Online shopping can be a huge time saver for Black Friday. Once you are sure about what you want to buy, see if you can buy the item online for the same price – either with the same store or an only only outlet. The biggest door busters usually can’t be bought online, but many of the other sale items are available this way.
Know When Black Friday Starts
Every store seems to start their Black Friday sales at different times, including more and more stores starting on Thursday night. Write down all of the times that the stores you are targeting open, and figure out how you are going to prioritize. I tend to prioritize the stores that have the most items I want, and even more importantly, I prioritize stores that have Thursday night sales.
If you are an early riser, you may want to prioritize Friday morning sales instead. It is nearly impossible to visit every store you want to shop at when it opens for Black Friday, so figure out a few that will give you the most savings with the least amount of hassle.
Enlist Some Buddies
One way to make sure you get everything on Black Friday is to have friends trade off shopping duties with you. If you have a friend who is a savvy shopper, you can divide the stores up and help each other out. Be ready to communicate via text message or cell phone to update one another on what you are finding at each store.
Get Ready to Wait Outside
Waiting outside in the cold is practically a holiday tradition in itself. Be prepared to wait for a few hours with warm clothes, chairs, snacks, and water. It’s also a good idea to have your cell phone fully charged to help get you through the wait.
Have a Backup Plan
No matter how much planning I do, I never get all of my items at Black Friday sales. Sometimes stores are out of things, sometimes I get exhausted, and sometimes I can’t find the deal I’m looking for. Be willing to call it a day before you find everything on your list. You can pick more items up online on Cyber Monday or at stores in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Feeling pressured to do it all on Black Friday will ruin the experience, so I always stop when it’s not fun anymore.