What is it about Black Friday? It’s actually not the biggest shopping day of the year; that honor goes to the Saturday before Christmas. But it’s the day that retailers are putting their best foot forward to get you to think of them and not their competitors. With the economy tanking, expect some pretty aggressive price cuts and be ready to take advantage of them. So here are your tips for surviving Black Friday 2008:
1. Make a plan! Don’t just roll out of bed and wonder which store to hit first. Whether you’re shopping online, or bricks-and-mortar, do your research. Look through the sale ads on BFads.net. You also can use the site to check store hours and create a shopping list.
2. For in-store shopping, be sure to buy a newspaper on Thanksgiving Day. It will be chock full of Black Friday ads which you can clip and bring with you for reference when you shop.
3. Have a strategy. For online shopping, you’ll want to get online as early as possible before the best deals run out. For in-person shopping, you won’t need to do this, unless you want to grab really elusive bargains on hot items like XBox and certain other toys and electronics. Otherwise, if you’re a night owl like me, then sleep in, relax, and plan to head out of the house in the late afternoon or evening. By that point, all the early birds have gone home and you’ll have some room to yourself at the mall.
4. If you’re heading out for a full day at the mall, dress for it. Wear light layers that you can easily remove in climate-controlled places, plus your most comfy sneakers or walking shoes. Bring a backpack or large tote bag so you can easily carry smaller purchases. Stash a bottle of water and snacks in there too, if you want to save money on mall munchies.
5. These days most people are on a budget (and after all this is the Mr. Cheap Stuff site), so hopefully you know to set your holiday spending budget before you whip out that credit card. I usually make a list with each recipient’s name, the item I plan to buy for them, and the expected price. Do your research on Amazon.com or Shopping.com or other shopping comparison sites ahead of time, so you know whether a Black Friday bargain is really special or just a waste of time.
6. Ideally, do not drag any unwilling participants shopping with you on Black Friday. Impatient or tired kids/spouses/friends will distract from your focus and you may be tempted to stray from your budgeted list. Black Friday is not for amateurs. I’m a mom so I understand – if you have little ones, go online and use catalogs and save a lot of stress.
7. Once you’re at the mall, if you’re still not sure you’re getting the best price, make use of your mobile phone to find out. With Frucall you just pull out your mobile phone, dial 1-888-363-7822 (1-888-DOFRUCALL), and enter the barcode number of the product you want. Frucall will search the Internet on your behalf and a computerized voice will let you know the best prices it finds. You can also send a text message to 37811 (FRU11) with the name or barcode number of the product and Frucall will reply with a text message that lists prices and sources.
8. If you’re visiting several stores in different locations, map out your route on Google maps http://maps.google.com/ or your GPS, if you have one, so you have the shortest circuit to save time and gas money.
9. For limited-time offers online, be ready to log onto your chosen shopping site the minute the deal is available. Set an alarm if you need to – and make sure your computer’s time is set correctly. Visit Time.gov for the U.S. Government official clock.
10. Finally, have a backup plan. If one store is sold out of a desired item, know where else you can get it and what you will pay. Or just decide to have a do-it-yourself holiday by spending your Black Friday baking, crafting, building or sewing home-made gifts.
Finding a good deal on Christmas gifts is great but here are a couple of things to consider.
- What is your time worth? Is waiting in the cold for hours and having to deal with crowded and possible grouchy people worth saving $20 on an MP3 player. Crunch the numbers and see if it really is worth your time. For example if you spend 8 hours shopping and end up saving $80. You just saved $10/hour. Now let me put this into perspective. You work hard and if you got Friday off for vacation would you rather have $80 or an entire free day to do whatever you want like spend time with your family?
- Do you really need to buy all that stuff? Personally I am not a Black Friday shopper, I like saving money but on the day after we are suppose to be “thankful” for what we have I find it ironic that people wait in line for hours to buy more “stuff”.