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5 Shopping Tips For Black Friday Deals & Doorbusters – How to Stay Focused in the Madness

By David Bakke

black friday shoppingIf you’re trying to get a game plan together for how you’re going to get everything you need on Black Friday and survive, you already know it’s not going to be easy. You can expect long lines and you can expect some unruly customers. I think we can all agree on that. So it goes without saying that you need to be prepared. However, in my opinion, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about your Black Friday shopping. To help you out, I have put together a list of 5 tips and strategies that hopefully will make your Black Friday adventure a little less stressful and little more productive:

1. Don’t Panic
That would be the first order of the day if you ask me. Don’t panic and don’t go nuts. I’ve already heard that Kohl’s will be opening at 3am and some Toys”R”Us locations will actually be opening at 10pm the night before! Don’t feel pressured to be the first one in line; you need to stay levelheaded about the whole thing. Also, keep in mind that the deals aren’t going to simply end on Black Friday. I’ve already seen the Staples ad for the week after Black Friday, and lots of the prices then will be just as good. If a fellow customer wants to fight you for the last Xbox Kinect, it’s not worth a bloody nose to get it!

2. Do Your Homework
Virtually every retailer out there already has their Black Friday ad or circular posted on the Internet. I would take full advantage of this and do your homework. You should do all of your price shopping and comparisons online several days before Black Friday even hits. There will be enough insanity that day as it is. If you can plan it out so you know exactly what you need from each store, your day will go that much smoother.

3. Use Your Head
A few quick points on this topic. First, 80% off of an item is not much of a deal if the price has been jacked up to offset the discount. Do not get all wide-eyed at some of these so-called discounts you see. I’m not saying all the retailers are doing this, but don’t be surprised me if they do this on some items. Second, just because you can get a waffle iron for $3 doesn’t mean your Aunt Judy will want it as a gift! Hopefully, your holiday shopping list is already done before you walk into these stores, and you are basing your list off of what your gift recipients might actually want, and not whatever you can find out there at a great price.

4. Make Your List and Stick To It
Speaking of a list, I would make absolutely 100% sure that you have this list in hand before you venture out that morning, and that you promise to yourself that you’re going to stick to it. Keep in mind that there are going to be deals everywhere and you’ll probably be tempted to buy a hundred different things for yourself. Remember, nothing is a “deal” if it’s something you don’t truly need. If you’re going to pick up a few items for yourself, you need to distinguish the difference between your customer needs and wants!

5. Organization
And finally, I would have my day planned out and organized down to the last detail. There are three things I would base my plan on: 1) the opening times of the stores that I want to hit, 2) the popularity of the items that I’m trying to get, and 3) the location of the retailers where I’ll be shopping. It may be difficult to juggle these three, but you’re going to have to make some choices. If you really want to get that clearance price Blu-ray player from Best Buy, but the nearest one is an hour away, you may have to sacrifice it so that you can get all the other gifts on your list before they sell out. Or you could consider doing some of your Black Friday purchases through some of the best online shopping websites to avoid all the traveling. Trust me, the deals online are just as good if not better. As far as the popularity of your items, as an example, if getting a deal on some pet supplies at Pet Smart is on your list, that trip can probably be moved back a bit since that stuff will no doubt be there later on in the day. Lastly, bring some water and snacks in the car. Having some food and drinks will save you money and make you more flexible throughout the day (and less cranky!).

Good Luck
In closing, if you’re going to venture out on Black Friday, I wish you luck. But if you do a lot of the legwork before Friday, you can minimize your stress and hassle that day. Personally, I’ll be splitting up my shopping that day—half on the Internet and half at retail stores. There are some specials that you have to go to the store for, but others can easily be found online. If you plan out your day, keep a level head, be disciplined, and stick to your list, you should have a successful outing!

Do you have any additional tips for saving money on Black Friday or staying safe on Black Friday? Your comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated.

(photo credit: ululemonathletica)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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