Friday, November 16, 2012

10 Black Friday Shopping Tips

You know you're a grown adult when vacuum sales excite you. Why do I want a Dyson Vac sooo bad? Seriously you'd think that someone who is in the advertising industry, wouldn't be so taken by marketing techniques, on vacuums, of all things. I saw one in an ad and started to get giddy at the thought that I'll be Black Friday shopping in a week. It's not my fault I love it so much, it's practically in my family's genetic code. Every year, my mom, sister, aunt, cousin and I all make the trek to the "big city" to do some damage on the wallet. Oddly enough, we find it fun running through crowds, fighting for parking spots and waiting in line for 20 minutes to get a humungo slice of pizza – totally worth it. Like the Doomsday Preppers, you must prepare for this day and with my 15+ years of experience, I will lead you to the light at the end of the tunnel…aka the checkout line.

While the day is called Black Friday, most sales actually start on Thanksgiving day now, while us normal people are sitting around our dinner tables stuffing our faces with turkey. Meanwhile, the crazies, are trampling each other in line trying to be the first into Best Buy to save $20 on an Xbox. That's not what we're talkin' bout here folks, I'm talkin bout smart shopping. WARNING: if you look like Santa – avoid shopping at all during Black Friday, children are rampant.

Tip #1: Budget. Before you even start to consider what items you want to purchase for Christmas (or general shopping), you must figure out how much money you are able to spend. 

Tip #2: Make a List. Now that you know how much money you are able to blow, it's time to make the list of what you want - BUT make the list before looking at ads. Why? Top priority purchases should be what you need or really want, versus what you find in an ad to be simply a good deal. At the end of the day, you don't want a bag full of impulse buys that you really didn't want! Keep the list in your phone, so you easily have it on the go.

Shopping Calculator App
Tip #3: Use your Smartphone. According to Marketing Land, 53% of the US population owns a smartphone and I bet that number is way higher in the spec of my readers! Therefore, use your smartphone to your advantage on Black Friday. Cash purchasing prevents overspending, but it can be dangerous to carry a bunch of cash on such a busy shopping day. BUT – you cannot simply guess how much you're spending as you go from store to store. Download a free shopping calculator app, there are tons to choose from; some apps have the feature to calculate (price, tax & discounts) the price before going through the checkout line. 

I have two more favorite apps that are super handy! has a complete list of stores and the current sales, no more printed ads needed. RetailMeNot Coupons has been a favorite of mine for a while now! The app is SO handy on the go, it has tons of coupons that you can pull up on your phone for checkout. 

Tip #4: Clip Coupons. If you don't have a smartphone, don't want to fool around with apps or the coupons simply aren't found online – cut them out! If you don't use coupons, you're literally throwing your money down the drain. It's also a great idea to research ahead of time and see which stores honor competitor's coupons or match sale prices. Some stores even have freebee coupons – no joke! I have a "free panty" from Victoria's Secret in my purse right now, well the coupon anyway! Don't let things like Kohl's Cash trick you into spending more money than originally planned though. (Example: If you didn't originally want anything from Kohls, but have $20 Kohl's Cash to spend, the disclaimer says your purchase must be at least $20 pre-tax. Most items for sale have a price like $18.99; Therefore, in order to meet the $20 minimum you'd have to buy something else in order to get the savings. Otherwise, buy something over $20 and spend the difference. Either way – you're spending more than you planned on in the beginning!)

Shopping buddy!
Tip #5: Shop with a Buddy. While darting in and out of stores solo seems faster, on Black Friday it's important to shop with a buddy! Not only to hold each other's bags, while the other tries clothes on, but to hold the place in line for them – it's handy using the buddy system! 

Tip #6: Dress wisely. One year I wasn't thinking and wore lace up boots – took forever to take them off and on when trying on clothes. It's also a good idea to leave your winter coat in the car, otherwise you'll end up carrying it around all day. I also always wear a neutral tank top or cami under my shirt – then I don't need to go into the changing room to try on tops (beats waiting in line behind 20 girls right?) Another great idea is to wear a cross body purse, this way you don't have to carry one around or accidentally forget somewhere it in the madness. It also helps prevent pick pocketing, as the purse is closer to your body and is never set down. Lastly, wear comfy shoes – shopping is a workout!

Tip #7: Save your Receipts. No matter how much you love something when you buy it – save the receipt! If you're buying gifts for friends and family, remember to get them a gift receipt as well (ask cashier for this before ringing the items up!) Remember to save all the receipts in one location, such as a zip pocket in your purse or in your wallet. 

Mall of America
Tip #8: Be Friendly! Don't only be courteous to employees working on this hectic day, but be nice to your fellow shoppers! History proves that shopper's claws come out on Black Friday – don't be that person! While it's fun to beat someone to a parking spot or get the last sweater in your size, it's also nice to open doors for people and to say thank you. 

Tip #9: Leave the Kids at Home. Now I'm not saying this because I dislike kids – I love them! But for your sake, leave the young ones at home. Bathroom and food lines are long, aisles are crowded, people stampede, nursing areas are severely limited and so on.

Tip #10: Don't forget Cyber Monday. Last of all, you're not doomed if you don't find everybody's gifts on Black Friday – there's still Cyber Monday! Woohoo! 

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