I value my sleep so much that I rarely set my alarm and rush to the store for just any doorbusters, but Black Friday is definitely the exception to my rule. I am not sure if it is the thrill of the hunt for amazing deals ingrained in us from our ancestor's hunt and gather instincts or just the opportunity to stretch our money in tough economics times, but I never miss Black Friday sales.
Each year I develop more savvy techniques to maximize my savings and find ways to enjoy the chaos on one of the craziest shopping days of the year.
Here are some of my strategies to survive Black Friday:
- Set a budget - It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and Black Friday that you spend more than you had budgeted. Set up a Christmas Fund or separate account for holiday expenses. If you wants some ideas to build a Christmas Fund go HERE. Some people set their holiday budget and loaded it on a prepaid visa card or gift cards.
- Don't Compensate for Savings - If you planned to spend $25 on your niece and you find a $25 gift on sale for $15, lock in the deal and move on to the next person on your list! Use your savings toward unexpected holiday expenses.
- Make a list and check it twice - In previous years, I remember grabbing several items that were not on my list just because they were an amazing deal. I bought a couple items that just collected dust in my gift closet. Eventually I will find the perfect recipient, but toys and electronics become obsolete quickly so it is better to only buy what you plan to use within the next 6 months to a year.
- Map out your stops - I like to look through the sales fliers, highlight the items I want to buy, then I determine the value of savings. Is it really worth waiting all night in a line to save $10 on a child's coat? There are amazing deals to find, so check when your favorite stores open, determine the best value for your time (like finding multiple items at one stop or buying high-value items like electronics), and then determine which of the top stores on your list are within a close distance of each other. Also many stores also offer sales that last all day, even if the best deals are offered early.
- Plan for long lines - In past years, I waited in the check-out lines stores for over an hour. Make sure that you allow time in your schedule for making your purchase and getting to the next stop.
- Doorbusters are limited - If you want to get the freebies, plan on being near the front of the line. In past years, I waited for nearly 2 hours and was near the front of the line, but they ran out of the free game a few people in front of me. Also many deeply discounted items like electronics are limited to only a handful per store. If you want the most popular items, plan to camp out early.
- Expect surprises - Last year my Walmart had the doorbuster toys in the food section, electronics in the toy section and other items spread randomly throughout the store. It was pure chaos, but I was able to grab a few of the items on my list. I rarely include a store in my Black Friday stops unless they have several items I would like to purchase so you more likely to find some of the items on your list!
- Shop with a friend or relative - My husband and I usually have a standing date to shop together on Black Friday. It is so much easier and enjoyable to have someone shop with you. They can hold your place in line when you have to run to the restroom or can grab you coffee while you wait in line.
- Prepare for the weather - There are always long lines at some of my favorite Black Friday stops. It is always cold in my area, so I have learned to dress in layers to stay warm as I wait outside and then I can shed layers as needed when I shop inside the stores. Even in decent weather, lining up outside along the sidewalk can be miserable if you are not prepared. Remember that there are no restrooms or coffee stands outside most stores, although those items would make Black Friday more enjoyable.
- Know your store's policies - Many stores accept coupons for additional savings, while other stores will price match ads from their competitors. This can be a great way to save extra money and time, but remember that sometimes Black Friday offers, doorbusters or limited time offers are excluded, so check with your favorite store before you shop on a busy day like Black Friday to avoid frustration at the cash register.
- Stack coupons - Many stores let you use coupons, even on Black Friday deals. As an example you can usually stack a "survey" coupon with the $10 off $50 coupons. You can often use store coupons to save even more on your Black Friday deals.
- Embrace the holiday spirit - I have had the most amazing experiences with shoppers here in Boise. While the long lines to check out and the crowded stores can seem frustrating at times, part of the experience of Black Friday is the thrill of the hunt. You may not get every item on your list but a little kindness makes the experience better for everyone.
To see tips for planning a stress free holiday go HERE.