Black Friday is almost here! Of course now it’s more like “Black Week” or “Black Month” as the deals start earlier and run longer. If you want to really get the best deals, you have to shop like a Black Friday Ninja.
I’ve got the best SECRET Black Friday tips you need to know about so that you can get the most out of your shopping…and save as much money as possible!
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Use these tips & tricks to get the most out of Black Friday
Shopping on Black Friday is tradition for me. It is the one day when my mom and I just get to spend the day together without interruption. We head out early in the morning and just shop all day long!
Over the years, I’ve figured out some tips to really finding the best deals. There are also some other tricks I’ve learned to make the day even better and less stressful for me (and others).
Now you get to learn my top secrets! Some of these you might already know about, but many of them might be completely new to you. Whatever the case, these ideas will help you navigate shopping on Black Friday (and even the few days leading up to this big shopping day).
1. Shop using discounted gift cards
It is always fun to get a deal. It’s even better to get a great deal. A simple way to do this is to shop with discounted gift cards. Before you head out to shop, visit a site like Raise.com to find discounted gift cards. You can find gift cards for hundreds of retailers.
I did this recently. I was able to pick up more than $500 in Best Buy gift cards for around $435. That put $65 right back in my pocket! Raise.com is probably my number one Black Friday shopping secret.
2. Sign up for emails
Decide which stores you will shop at this year. Visit each website and sign up for email newsletters. It is important that you do this at least two weeks before Black Friday. It can take time before the emails start to generate, so you want to allow ample time to get added to the list.
3. Prioritize your shopping list
When making your list of items you need to buy, list them first by store and then by order of importance. This will put the “must find” items at the top so you can first focus on finding them as you visit each store. When you get there, first walk to that department to find the item you want.
4. Have a backup plan
With the number of people shopping, there will be instances where you will not find the item you want. That means you need to have backup plan in place. Add a second item to your list, just in case you can’t find the one thing you really want.
5. Shop with a friend
Not only is it more fun to shop with someone you love, but it can be helpful too! If there are a few must have items on your list, you can work together to find them. Your friend can visit the electronics section for the video game you want while you are in the toy aisle finding another item on your list.
6. Leave the kids at home
My kids talk about wanting to come with me every year. However, they know that it is not an option. It is not because I don’t want to spend time with them, but it is because of the patience required. There is a lot of standing in line. No one likes to hear “I’m bored” or “Can’t we go home?” Leave them with your spouse or a friend and just enjoy your shopping day.
7. Price check in the store
When I shop, I have my list in one hand and my phone in the other. As I find the items I want, I always do a quick scan to check to see if it is less expensive elsewhere. They way I do this is by using Amazon. Their app has a feature which allows you to scan the barcode of the products right in the store.
This last year, we saved more than $50 just by using the app. The price was less on Amazon than it was in the store. As we found the discounted item, it was added to the cart in the store.
Remember, not every item you want will be on sale, so you need to take a moment to see if you can find it lower elsewhere.
8. Plan your shopping trip
Once you have your list ready, decide which stores you will need to visit first. I recommend you start with the one that has your must-have item. You can then figure out which ones to stop by after that. It might be based upon your list or a route.
9. Don’t even try to price match
10. Shop on Wednesday
Sometimes, the Black Friday prices are not always the lowest price. Visit the store on Wednesday to find out. You might find that the price listed is the same as, if not lower than, what you will find in a couple of days. Go ahead and grab that item while you can.
This is also true with finding the hot holiday toys. If you find one in the store before the shopping frenzy hits, grab it to ensure you have one for Christmas.
This is also the time to figure out the other items you want and where they live in the store. This way, when you get there on Friday, you know where to head to get find the gifts on your list.
11. Score early deals
Many retailers now start to put items on sale online before Black Friday. This can mean amazing deals that won’t be available later in the week. Follow sites which share these deals in an easy-to-follow format, such as the Penny Pinchin’ Mom Facebook group. This way, you will not miss out on any of them being offered.
12. Shop for other holidays/events
I always make a list of the events coming up during the following year. For instance, if I know someone is getting married next year, I look for the appliances or household items they might want. I have even picked up smaller toys to set back in our gift closet for kids’ parties for the following year.
13. Don’t wear red to Target
My mom learned this one the hard way! One year, she wore a long-sleeved red tee and was asked for help on numerous occasions.
14. Shop online instead
If Black Friday stores are not your thing, you are in luck! Many of the in-store deals will be available online. The only items you will not find are the doorbusters.
15. Avoid Walmart (if you can)
While they typically have some of the best deals, keep in mind that you and 5,000 of your closest friends also want the same one. That means mobs of people. I mean MOBS.
This is also historically where the fights and trampling seems to take place most frequently. There is no deal worth having where you risk injury of any sort. Ever.
16. Get out early
It means less sleep, but the sooner you can get to the store, the more likely you will find the items you want. Plan on waking up early (or staying up really late) to get the items on your list.
17. Shop late
Retailers want to keep the shoppers in the store all day long. They sometimes offer late shopper deals in addition to the early bird offers. Watch the ad to find out which items will be discounted later in the day. You might be able to sleep in, avoid the crowds and still score an amazing deal.
18. Follow your budget (and use cash)
Before you even make a list, you need to know your budget. Once that is set, get cash. Leave the credit cards at home. You’ll think more about every purchase and reduce impulse shopping if you have cash. There is no way you can overspend as you don’t have the money to do it.
19. Know that doorbusters are few and far between
Retailers want to get you into their store to shop. The way they often do this is with the doorbusters. Make sure you read the ad carefully. Many times these are limited to 25-100 items at each store. That means if you are not in line super early, you will not get the deal.
If you really want a doorbuster, watch for those which have a shopping guarantee, such as shoppers in the store at a certain time will be guaranteed to get that item. Walmart did this last year, so we may see the same thing happening again in 2016.
20. Remember not everything is really a deal
Not everything on Black Friday is a deal. Often times, retailers do not have to offer their lowest prices until closer to December 25. That may mean the item on sale 30% off might drop to 40% off or more the closer you get to Christmas.
Always check the original sticker price on the product or the shelf. Compare that to the discount to see if it is really a great deal. Not all items will be deeply discounted, so don’t fall for the hype of the shopping season.
Another thing you need to check is for the inflated discount. This is when retailers will say an item is on sale for $89.99 — down from $149.99. In your mind, you see a deal. However, a small bit of research shows you that the retail price was too high to begin with and everyone offers that item for that same price. It is not truly a deal and you might pass and wait for a better offer.
21. Know the return policy (and get gift receipts)
This one can really get you. Some stores have a liberal return policy for items purchased on Black Friday and during the holidays. However, it might also be valid for only 30 days. If you buy something and someone does not like it, there is a good chance they will not be able to return it.
In addition to this, get gift receipts for the items you buy. It will make it a LOT easier on your recipient, should a return or exchange be needed (and the store will love this too).
22. Use shopping bags instead of a cart
This one saved my sanity last year! Maneuvering carts through crowds of people is difficult and can slow you down. Grab a couple of reusable shopping bags and take them with you to shop instead. I’ve even used large totes and stuffed them full and carried them through the store as well. It is just so much easier than a heavy cart.
23. Talk to people in line
This is actually a fun one! Every time you are in line, chat with people around you. If you see something they have in their hand or cart and you want one, ask where they found it. I’ve tracked down unique gift ideas just by standing in line. And, if you have to dart out and get something, the majority of people will allow you to get back in line where you were before.