Our BEST 2016 Black Friday Shopping Tips
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Is it just me, or does it seem like Black Friday has become a bigger holiday than Thanksgiving in recent years? For some, the rush of scoring an incredible deal is enough motivation to get up at 3 a.m. to go shopping. If you’re planning to hit the stores this year, you’ll want to read these tips for making the most of your time and money, while maintaining your sanity. 😬
1. Plan. Plan. PLAN.
If this ain’t your first rodeo, then you KNOW you must have a game plan when you head out. It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness and make some purchases you might regret, or forget things you came for. Create a plan and stick to it! But wait… How do you make a plan??
2. Start with a budget
This is arguably the most important factor in holiday shopping. It’s important to be responsible with your spending, so create a budget and stick to it. It’s too easy to find a “great deal” (or seventeen 😉 ) and before you know it, your cart is full of impulse buys. Stick to a list and shop with cash only to guarantee that you don’t overspend.
3. Get a complete list of Black Friday ads
Black Friday ad leaks are already starting to roll in. Check out Black Friday Ads HERE for the most up-to-date ad scans, and check out our list of store opening times and match-ups HERE. Make a prioritized list of stores by deciding which items are your must-haves, while also factoring in chronological order of store opening times AND locations.
Don’t forget to compare specific items at each store. Some items might be priced similar or even lower, but they may not be on the front page of the ad. This could save you some store-hopping.
4. Know the store policies
Familiarize yourself with each store’s price matching and/or coupon policy. Keep in mind that many stores have created special price matching policies specifically for Black Friday. Price matching could save you a trip or two, but you need to know that they’ll accept it.
5. Buddy up
If you need multiple, limited, door-buster items, consider finding a shopping partner or two. Then you can split up and snag all the limited items faster. Plus, it’s way more fun to shop with friends anyway!
Pro tip: Carpooling is a great idea, BUT you need to factor in cargo space. If you all walk in and buy a TV, you better have room for them!
6. Be prepared to stand in line
Black Friday lines are always pretty brutal, both outside AND the checkout line. Wear comfy shoes, and whatever outdoor gear you’ll need if you’ll be waiting outside. Also, consider leaving the kiddos at home (if this is not possible, bring toys or other items to keep them entertained while shopping).
7. Fuel up
Both your car AND your body! Bring water (or coffee!) and snacks if you’re going to be out for a long time. You don’t want to waste precious shopping time getting gas or food.
8. Don’t give up!
If the item you are looking for is not on the shelf or display, check the front of the store where other shoppers may have left items they weren’t sure about before checking out. Or, check with your cashier to see if someone happened to change their mind at the register and leave the item you were looking for there.
9. Don’t skip the drugstores!
Walgreens, CVS, and Rite-Aid have some of the very best Black Friday sales! They also typically have unbeatable gift card deals, as well as stocking stuffers, gift wrapping supplies, and holiday decor. Warehouse stores are also a great option!
10. Snag discounted gift cards before Black Friday
11. Get in the loop
Most stores have special offers and early shopping deals for loyalty reward members and email subscribers. Check your inbox the week leading up to Thanksgiving. You might find a better than Black Friday deal. Don’t forget to follow your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter, AND sign up for text alerts, too! They often post secret deals on social media, or leave hints about items that will be on sale.
12. Get that phone ready
Your phone will be your best partner in shopping. Make sure it has a full battery! You should also download a price comparison app or two (and make sure it has a scanner). Also, load up on rewards apps like THESE.
13. Not ALL doorbusters are good deals
Comparing prices before heading out will give you a great idea for price points. Also, doorbuster items often sell for below a retailer’s costs just to lure in customers, but they are often non-brand-name models, sometimes created specifically for Black Friday with lower specs than a standard manufacturer’s line, so it’s important to make sure that your bargain item has everything you want.
14. Be kind
Be friendly to other customers and store associates. You will be amazed at how people will help each other, even in the craziness, if they are approached with kindness. One Hip2Save reader always takes candy with her when she shops and hands it out to those who have to work on Black Friday.
15. Keep those receipts!
After the adrenaline rush is over, you may realize that you got caught up in the Black Friday craziness and purchased items that you really do not want. If you have the receipt, you MAY be able to return them and get a full refund.
Or, instead of dealing with the Black Friday craziness, maybe…
Don’t bother heading into the madness at all!
Honestly, most retailers have begun putting the same deals online on Thanksgiving Day, INCLUDING doorbusters! I can usually get 90% of my shopping done before Black Friday even comes around, and most of the other 10% can be finished on Small Business Saturday (at local shops) or Cyber Monday!
You can’t beat shopping in your pajamas!
Pre-Black Friday Pro Tip: Get your grocery shopping done BEFORE Thanksgiving. Trust me on this one. I went grocery shopping on Black Friday a few years ago. Biggest. Mistake. EVER!
If you think Target is a madhouse anyway, just imagine trying to buy groceries, too. I was so good about buying all my Thanksgiving supplies, but I totally forgot that we would need some food after Thanksgiving. Total rookie move.
Written by Danielle for Hip2Save. Danielle is a proud mom to 5 amazing kids in Utah, who lives for coffee and baking. She’s dedicated to balancing her own interests and passions, while encouraging her children to follow their own paths in life.