Can you believe that the holidays are just around the corner? Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year… and it’s just weeks away!
For many, the rush of scoring an incredible deal is enough motivation to get up at 3AM to go shopping. So if you’re planning to hit the stores this year, first read these tips on how to make the most of your time and money, while maintaining your sanity.
1. Plan. Plan. PLAN.
If you’ve shopped on Black Friday in the past, then you KNOW you must have a game plan before you head out. It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness and make some purchases you might regret or forget the items 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 be sure to create a budget NOW and stick to it. It’s too easy to find a “great deal” (or fourteen 😉 ) 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. View the Complete List of Black Friday Ads
Black Friday ad leaks are already starting to roll in. Check out all of the Black Friday Ads HERE for the most up-to-date ad scans, and also be sure to check out our list of store opening times and match-ups HERE. Decide which items are your must-haves first and then make a prioritized list of those stores that you’re wanting to go to, including their 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 create different price-matching policies specifically for Black Friday, so be sure to check before heading out. Price matching could save you a trip or two, but you need to know if they’ll honor it.
5. Shop with a Friend
If you need multiple, limited, door-buster items, consider finding a shopping partner or two. Then you can split up and snag all of the limited items faster. Plus, it’s way more fun to shop with friends!
HIP TIP: Carpooling is a great idea, BUT you need to factor in cargo space. If you all walk in and buy a HDTV or play kitchen for your kiddos, make sure that you have room for all of them!
6. Be Prepared to Wait in Line
Black Friday lines are always pretty brutal, both outside AND at 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).
Hip Tip – Some stores offer freebies to the first __ customers in line. If you’re planning to get up early anyways, consider aiming to be one of the first 100 customers in line for a possible freebie.
7. Fuel Up Before Heading Out
That means 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 stopping to get 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 or a manager to see if someone happened to change their mind at the register and left the item you were looking for there – and they haven’t had time to put it back yet.
9. Score Lots of Freebies at the Drugstores
CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid have some of the very best Black Friday sales and freebies! They also typically have unbeatable gift card deals, as well as stocking stuffers, gift wrapping supplies, and holiday decor. Warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are also a great option!
10. Snag Discounted Gift Cards Before Black Friday
You can score bargain gift cards at sites like Raise.com or eBay for stores you’re planning to shop at anyway. This is a super easy way to save BIG if you plan ahead and buy them before heading out.
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 as 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! They often post secret deals on social media or leave hints about items that will be on sale.
Hip Tip – If you’re planning to sign up for email newsletters in hopes of receiving a coupon, be sure to sign up at least TWO weeks before Black Friday so you’ll receive the coupons in time.
12. Make Sure Your Cellphone is Ready
Your phone will be your best partner when shopping on Black Friday. Make sure it has a full battery and bring a portable charger in case your battery runs low! 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. It’s important to make sure that your “bargain item” has everything you want.
Not sure where to go? In the past, these stores have offered some of the best deals for the following categories, with JCPenney, Macy’s and Kohl’s offering the highest percentage of in-store savings…
14. Be Friendly
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. Sweet!
15. Keep Your 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 or need. If you have the receipt, you MAY be able to return them and get a full refund, so be sure to hang onto them.
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. If you think Target is a madhouse anyway, just imagine trying to buy groceries during the busy holiday season. And, be sure NOT to wear a red shirt when shopping at Target unless you want to be bombarded with questions from strangers asking where they can find everything on their shopping list! 😂
Written by Mary for Hip2Save. Mary is a proud mom to 3 kids in Austin, TX, who thrives off Jesus, running long distance, bargain shopping, warm Texas weather, a yummy latte…and a little Candy Crush from time to time. She also loves quality time with family & friends and sharing great deals with others.