Thanksgiving is almost here again, and as another year passes we all have so much to be thankful for. Our health, our families, and all the blessings we've been given throughout the year.
For many people the Thanksgiving celebration also marks the coming of the biggest shopping day of the year when people young and old flock to the stores to find a good deal on some long sought after item.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the day that retailers traditionally will become profitable for the year, and when they start making a profit. In other words, they go “into the black”. Thus the name, “Black Friday”.
If it is anything like years past there will be thousands of people waiting in long lines in the middle of the night, waiting to purchase that reduced price 50″ plasma TV or the newest Xbox Kinect game. Some will get exactly what they want, while others will walk away disappointed. So how do you make sure that you're not one of the people missing out? You need to plan your day down to the smallest detail, making sure you know where you're going, what you're getting, and how much you're going to spend. Plan your strategy!
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A Black Friday Plan Of Attack
So what do you need to do in order to have a successful shopping trip on Black Friday? Here's what I do before I even go to wait in line for the door-buster deals in the wee early hours of the morning.
- Know what you want to buy in advance. Make a prioritized list: Don't go out and buy things you don't need just because they're a great deal. But if your old 20″ tube TV just died on you and you've been shopping for a new one, this may be a good time to buy. Make a list of the things you want or need, and put them in the order that you need or want them. Don't buy on impulse.
- Know how much you want to spend, and don't go over the limit: It can be tempting with all of the amazing deals on Black Friday to buy all sorts of things you don't need – or didn't realize you needed until you got to the store.
- Save up and pay cash for the items you're buying: Because buying things is that much sweeter when you pay in cash!
- Check for Black Friday deals, before Black Friday! Often stores will sell certain items at the discounted Black Friday prices in advance of the actual day. For example, one laptop I was considering buying was at the Black Friday price online, a week in advance.
- Do reconnaissance before the big day. Visit the stores in advance so you know where the items are: At some stores on Black Friday they'll just open the doors and there will be a mad rush for the most popular doorbuster items. If you visit the store a day or two before the sale you'll know just where you need to go to find the item you're looking for.
- Buddy up – divide and conquer!: If you are looking for more than one item, you may need to find a battle buddy, someone who is willing to wait in line with you and make a b-line for item number 2 on your list before it disappears. If the other deal you want is at another store, they may have to to go that store for you. Buy them lunch to thank them for the help!
- Figure out if you'll need a voucher/ticket to get a deal: At many stores you have to arrive super early in order to get a voucher to take advantage of the hottest deals. For example at a Micro Center I went to on Black Friday a few years back, only the first people in line got tickets to buy a deeply discounted TV. Find out if this is the case at your store, and if so, make sure to get there early.
- Don't despair if you miss out. Some of the best deals don't happen on Black Friday!: If you don't get the deal you had hoped to get on Black Friday, just remember that some of the best deals people get don't even happen on this day. Case in point – we bought our 50″ plasma TV for only $580 – and not on Black Friday! I have yet to see a deal that good for the same or a similar TV on Black Friday!
So make your battle plan early – if you haven't started already, do it today!
Places To Research The Black Friday Deals In Advance?
One of the most important pieces to having a successful Black Friday shopping trip is doing your research in advance. You need to scour the all the ads, looking for the best deal on the widget you were hoping to buy.
Some of the best places I've found to do research for Black Friday include:
- Fat Wallet Black Friday Forum (my favorite)
- Black Friday.net
- Black Friday at Penny Hoarder
- Black Friday at GottaDeal
- Black Friday Ads
- Black Friday Central
- Black Friday at Amazon.com
Another cool resource that I found this year for deal finding is the Black Friday deal sorter over at FatWallet.com. Last year Fat Wallet put out a sortable excel spreadsheet that did essentially the same thing, but the website they put up this year is much easier to use. It has all the hot black friday deals in one easy to use list, and you can sort the deals by category, type, brand, price, free shipping etc. Very helpful if you're looking for a specific item.
Looking to buy several items at one store, but not sure which you should make a b-line for first? Check out this “most wanted” list from gottadeal.com – it will tell you what some of the most wanted items at each store are – so you can prioritize you list.
Missed Out On Your Hot Deal? Don't Despair! Cyber Monday Is On The Way
A lot of times people will find that their deal was just so popular that by the time they show up at 4am all the coupons for that nice TV have already been passed out. Don't despair, a lot of times you can find some great deals on the Monday following Thanksgiving, often called “Cyber Monday”. Check out the sites above, especially FatWallet forums, and you can find some great deals the following week as well. Or follow my tutorial here on how to save money on the high ticket items you buy: