With the annual onslaught of all things pumpkin spice appearing, it can only mean one thing: The holidays are fast approaching.
It seems we only just packed away our summer wardrobe and yet, fall foliage is in effect, the Rockettes are in full swing with their signature high-kicks, and our mailboxes (both actual and virtual) are bursting at the seams with store catalogues and promotions.
For many of you, Thanksgiving means relaxing with a good meal and watching football with family and friends. For thousands of others, though, it means grabbing a turkey leg and heading out the door to take part in the biggest shopping day in the United States, known as Black Friday.
Do you plan to brave the crowds to snag some deals this year? Whether it’s your first Black Friday venture or you’re a veteran, following these seven tips can help ensure smooth sailing through the sea of shoppers this season:
1. Do Your Homework.
Save time and money by doing your research and making a shopping list in advance. Learn about which products are recommended by visiting Consumer Reports for reviews and Price Grabber for price comparisons. By visiting these sites and doing some advance legwork, you can be confident that you’re buying the best products at the best prices available.
2. Set a Budget.
With your shopping and pricing list intact, now is the time to set a budget you can afford. Too many of us are tempted to spend money on things we don’t need simply because they are on sale, and the deals are “too good to pass up.” This year, focus on only what you really want or need; the other stuff isn’t worth it — just ask my husband, who still has an extra television in the box from last year’s excursion!
3. Create a Game Plan With a Free Mobile App.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? Is the item you want only available as a “Doorbuster”, meaning at a special discount price only available for a limited period, usually during early-opening hours? Which stores open late on Thanksgiving evening, and which ones wait until Friday morning, or even Saturday? These are all questions you want to consider, and find answers to, before heading out to stores.
To get answers to these questions and more, download the free BlackFriday.com app. The app provides information on store hours and special discounts, and includes a “Wishlist On The Go” so you can keep track of and add to your shopping list.
4. Create a Black Friday Envelope.
- While the app is handy, you never know when your technology — or your WiFi — will go out. To be safe, have a paper backup of your digital game plan ready. Take an 8x10 envelope or folder and add the following contents:
- Printed store ads for items you plan on buying — stores are crazy and employees are overworked, so it’s better to bring a flyer or ad instead of trying to explain what you saw
- Coupons for participating retailers
- Any gift cards you have — now is a great time to use them!
- A paper version of your shopping list
5. Use One Credit Card Whenever Possible.
Using the same credit card for all your purchases is not only a great way to track your spending in one convenient place, but it also gives you an opportunity to rack up points, miles, or cash back rewards, depending on you card. Do bring along your specific store credit cards as well, just in case retailers reward cardholders for their loyalty with additional savings or rewards.
6. Read the Fine Print and Hold Onto Your Receipts.
Be sure to read the fine print on all the items you intend to purchase and the stores you plan to purchase them from, so you understand the return and exchange policies. Some stores charge restocking fees as high as 15 percent, especially on electronics. Keep all your receipts together in your envelope or folder, and request gift receipts if necessary.
7. Divide and Conquer.
If your list is long or diverse and requires hitting different departments of the same store, or even different stores, team up with a family member or friend. Divide the list among your group, and tackle it fast enough to go home and enjoy some pumpkin pie leftovers before dinner.
And remember, if you don’t get the chance to cross off all the items on your list, there’s always Cyber Monday!
Jenny Powers is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.