As many of you know, I'm not one to post many coupons or deals. Because though they help, becoming Financially Fit is about much more than coupons and deals! So I won't be posting Black Friday deals on this site. However…this is the place to learn all the best secrets, so you can go forth and conquer wherever YOU choose to do your Black Friday shopping!
Last year I did an interview with a local magazine about my best Black Friday shopping tips and tricks, so I thought I'd repost these killer tips with you as you prepare for B.F this year. Enjoy!
Pssst…See my overall opinion of B.F. at the bottom.
The Secrets to Shopping on Black Friday:
1. Do your research BEFORE the Black Friday ads come out.
Throughout the season, start noticing the junk mail, commercials, billboards, and signs at the mall. Sometimes stores will mark UP their product, so as to be able to then slash it 50% or more for Black Friday. Also, research the Cyber Monday deals! Many people don't even consider Cyber Monday. It's the Monday after BF, and it's basically the online retailers' Black Friday.
2. Decide in advance what you NEED.
Before you even start watching the commercials or reading the ads, ask yourself “what do I need for gifts this year?” “Who do I need gifts for?” “What would we need or want as a family?” Try to make these decisions (or at least have a general idea) BEFORE you get sucked into the ads. And think through the entire year of gifts, not just Christmas! Birthdays. Showers. Weddings. Anniversaries. Look beyond Christmas when deciding your needs.
3. Pick one store.
This is hard, because you might like one item at one store, and another item at another store. But odds are, those hot items will go FAST so you will most likely end up with nothing if you try to skirt from store to store. Pick the store that overall has the best deals (for what you need), or has the one item that you can't live without. Once you pick the store, sign up for their email list, “Like” them on Facebook, download their app, etc. so you can stay up to date and get bonus coupons and deals.
4. Look beyond the door-busters.
The door-buster items are the heavily advertised, almost too-good-to-be-true items that draw a crowd to that store; the amazingly good deals. BUT…there are usually very limited quantities of those items, they go fast, you have to stand in line all night long to get them, and when they're gone they are gone. Then what? Does the store have good enough deals on the rest of their products to make it worth going if the door-busters are gone by the time you get there? All things to think about. Also, don't limit yourself to the big-box stores. You can also find deals (and smaller crowds) at craft stores, office supply stores, appliance stores, etc.
5. Make it count.
If you're going to forge the Black Friday madness at all, go big or go home. Be the first one in line. Sleep on the sidewalk if you need to. Enlist a group of friends (see next point). Don't think you'll be able to meander into the store at 8am freshly showered and fully rested and be able to walk out with a doorbuster product. Bring chairs, blankets, games, and food to keep you enduring through the night. Run like MAD when those stores open to get to the products you came for. Play nice, but make it count!
6. Use the buddy system.
Going with a partner in crime helps! Enlist a spouse, friend, or family member to forge the crowd with you. Make a strategic game plan between the two of you based on the items you both need, then divide and conquer! Define quantities and products, and have “plan B”‘s in place in case one of you gets to an item that is gone already. Be sure to have a meeting place set so you don't have to rely on your cellphones; you most likely won't hear them in the store, and your battery might die during the night if you're on the curb without an outlet to plug it into (I know this from experience).
7. Consider value and not just the price tag.
For example, a vacuum might be marked down to just $19.99 – a great deal for a vacuum right? So you buy it. In reality, it might only be worth $35 at full-price. Whereas a $250 vacuum might be marked down to $99.99. It's a much higher price tag, but a MUCH greater value you're getting. Avoid being what I call “sticker-blinded” and don't buy things just because the price tag is cheap.
8. Set a budget and stick with it.
Just trust me on this one. Once your in the store, with the adrenaline and 4 hours-worth of caffeine buzzing through you, you'll probably get caught up in the thrill of it all. You'll see a crowd gathered around an item, and you'll suddenly be willing to sell your first-born child to get to the center and grab as many of the item you can before they are gone. No, I'm not actually kidding. Bring cash if you need to, but stay firm and plan ahead. Again, if you don't have a defined need for it, don't buy it! No bargain is worth overspending.
9. Be courteous and have a good attitude.
It's the holidays for heaven's sake, people! So please be nice. But…expect that others won't be, and prepare yourself for it ahead of time. The poor store workers have been up all night, dealing with unruly crowds and stress. Everyone is cold, tired, cranky, and hopped up on Red Bull. No $5 DVD is worth knocking someone in the shin, so just take a breath, and stay chill. If you don't get what you came for, who cares! Have a great time. Decide that whatever the outcome, you are going to have fun and enjoy yourself. Yes, YOU are what will make it enjoyable, and an unforgettable experience! YOLO, right?
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My overall opinion of BF is that yes, you can get some good deals. Some great deals, even. But in general, I think the hype is greater than the discounts. When we first bought our house I lined up at RC Willey at 4am to be one of the first 50 in line to get a sofa AND love seat for just $300 (total!). Killer deal, right?? I got the couches, they are great, we still use them today (kinda). But are they my dream couches? Would I have bought them if the price wasn't what it was? No, not even close. In fact, they were tan in the ad, and were olive green when I got to the store…but I bought them anyway because the price was right, and it was a deal I was hyped about because…well…that's what BF's all about! So take BF with a grain of salt. I, personally, think it's more about the experience than the deals, but I'm sure hard core BF shoppers would skin me over that one.
Maybe you should give it a try and decide for yourself 😉 Good luck out there!!