Black Friday Survival Guide for Getting the Best Deals

Friday, November 14, 2008 21:18
Posted in category Holidays, Shopping

Are you ready for the challenge of a crush of shoppers on the number one shopping day of the year, Black Friday?  The day after Thanksgiving is the best day to get those bargains and deals for those coveted Christmas presents, but for those who have never had to stand in line at midnight the night before, this Black Friday Survival Guide is for you.  We will teach you the tricks of the trade so that you can score the best deals while keeping your sanity (somewhat!) intact while doing it.

To help you in the Black Friday mall madness, we have three new exclusive MomsBudget Black Friday worksheets at the bottom of this page, so you can get yourself ready, and plan out your best plan of action for the big shopping day.  Please share this with friends and family so they can make the most of their shopping day too!

  • Arrive early.  Yes, this is a case of the early bird gets the worm, especially if the good deal you are after only has limited quantities available.
  • Check opening hours.  Just because you know the store usually opens at 9am, don’t assume that it will be the same time on Black Friday.  Double check because you don’t want to show up for that hot deal at 9am only to discover they opened their doors at 5am and have been sold out of your hot deal for hours already.
  • Are the deals time-sensitive?  Make sure you are there at the correct time for specials only available at certain times of the day.  If there is a door crasher at 11am for a specific microwave, don’t expect them to honor the price if you are there at 8am or 1pm.  That said, there is nothing wrong with stalking out the item early, so you can be sure to get one!  Just be prepared that some stores won’t put the items on the floor until the specific door crasher time, meaning you will need to be ready to pounce when it comes out of the stock room.
  • Watch for flyers.  Not all the stores will put out their flyers on the same day, so you might get one flyer in the Sunday paper but another might not arrive until Tuesday or Wednesday.  Use our Black Friday Price Tracker to keep track of prices for individual items as each flyer comes in, saving you time later when you would otherwise be hunting through a stack of flyers to remember who had the best price on that Nintendo DS.
  • Eat a good breakfast.  You will need your energy!  This is not the morning to let your dieting win!
  • Bring a bottle of water.  You don’t want to have to stop for a drink, and bringing a bottle of water means you can sip while in line while you wait, rather than standing there thinking about how hot and thirsty you are!
  • Park closer to the exits and not the entrances.  If the store you are going to has difference doors for exits and entrances, go to the exit.  First, most people will naturally park near the entrance, meaning you can get a better parking spot near the exit (and you can often enter through the exit too).  Secondly, you will be closer to your vehicle when you leave, meaning less time carrying your bags and an easier getaway so you can get to the next store on your list.
  • Be aware of pickpocketers.  Do you know that pick pockets will take advantage of the huge josteling crowds to rip off your wallet?  So if you carry a purse, put your wallet in the little zip pocket inside AND zip up the outside zipper as well.  Not bringing a purse but have a coat?  Zip it into the inside breast pocket.  And get rid of all those excess cards in your wallet, since a larger wallet is easier for a thief to find and grab when they reach into your purse.  And dump out your unneeded change… you don’t need the added weight!.
  • Can you shop online?  Some stores will allow their Black Friday deals to start at 12:01am that day, so you could get all your shopping done before the store opens their physical doors.
  • Dress comfortably.  Wear your most comfy shoes and skip the jacket for a sweatshirt that you can tie around your waist if needed.  The stores can get HOT with so many people.
  • Try the divide and conquer method.  Instead of you and your hubby going together to each store, why not split it up so you will each spend less time shopping.  Or one stands guard with the cart (preferably in one of the lesser crowded places, such as luggage or garden supplies) while the other grabs the items and brings them back… getting a cart through the crowd can be crazy!
  • Doing a lot of shopping at one store?  Visit the store the right before closing the day before Thanksgiving (or on Thanksgiving if it is one of the few open), so you know exactly where all the items are before you get there with all the crowds on Friday.  Just because you know where those iPod Nanos are usually doesn’t mean they will be there on Friday, they could have a huge display at the opposite end of the store.  If the store is large, they might have a store map available, which you can then make notes on about where specific things are located.
  • Is it worth the money being saved?  If the big ticket items you want are being sold in multiple places for nearly the same price (say, within $5 of anything $100 or $150 or more), you might want to go to the store you think will be much less busy, both because it will ultimately take you less time to buy the items, and there won’t be nearly as many people to get through.  So instead of going to BestBuy for that item, go to a smaller local store instead. 
  • Baby steps for the uninitiated!  If this is your first time shopping on Black Friday, you might consider starting off later in the day, or skipping the major big box retailers.  Crowds usually decline throughout the day (all those people standing in line need all night need to sleep!)  Or go along with a friend who is a veteran of Black Friday sales if you want to shop at the same stores. 
  • Know your prices and back-up places to shop.  If that gaming system is the cheapest or has the best bundle at one store but is sold out, know which place has the second best price so you can try there next.  Use our MomsBudget Black Friday Price Log so you know which stores have the next-best prices incase your first choice (or even your second choice!) is sold out.
  • Be nice.  The person who is nice to the salesperson is much more likely to get what they want than the customer who swears and curses.  When something is sold out, a salesperson is much more likely to give you a better deal on an alternative product if you are nice than to the customer who is cursing a blue streak at them.  Remember it is busy and if a salesperson doesn’t want to help you because you are being a jerk, he or she can easily keep occupied with the many other customers needing help until you go away!
  • Get a babysitter.  The last thing you want is whiny kids along for the shopping trip.  Not only is it too busy to keep an eye on them properly, chances are pretty good the crowds will make them upset or cranky.  So get a babysitter so you don’t have to add dealing with your kids into the whole Black Friday shopping mix.
  • Have a shopping list.  Make up your shopping list so you aren’t tempted to buy things you really don’t need, just because you think it’s a good deal.  Use this handy list so you know exactly what you need to buy, and your budgeted cost for each recipient, just incase you decide you want to buy something else on the spur of the moment.  Use the Moms Budget Shopping Plan Printable!  If some of the items aren’t in sales flyers, you can also use our Gift List Worksheet to remind you of what you planned to get each person, along with the budget for each as well.

Here are three worksheets from MomsBudget, and how you can use them to make sure you make the most of your shopping day.

Black Friday Price Tracker

Black Friday Price Tracker

As each Black Friday flyer comes out, go through them and record all the prices for each of the items you need to buy. Then the day before, you can sort through and see which stores have the best prices for each item you need.

Black Friday Price Log

Black Friday Price Log

Once you have completed your Price Tracker, use this worksheet to put the best price for each item, as well as the 2nd and 3rd best prices, so you have a backup plan incase something sells out.. this way you won’t overpay somewhere else because you couldn’t remember who had the 2nd best price.

Black Friday Shopping Plan

Black Friday Shopping Plan

Once you know what you need to buy where, use this worksheet for listing all the items you need to get at each store, including the price and section of the store it is in. Also checkboxes for if you got it, it’s sold out, or you need to ask where to find it. Use one for each store.

We will also be posting links to the most popular Black Friday flyers as they are released online, so you don’t have to wait for them to arrive in your mail or newspaper (please comment with additional flyers if you see them!).  Be sure to bookmark this page and sign up for our RSS feed so you are on top of everything for the most successful bargain hunting shopping day.

Following these tips should help you survive the mass hysteria that greets shoppers on Black Friday.  And this year could be worse, because so many people are trying to save as much money as possible, so bargain hunters will be out in full force.
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3 Responses to “Black Friday Survival Guide for Getting the Best Deals”

  1. Anita says:

    November 17th, 2008 at 3:40 am

    I need this so much, thanks! I am going to go shopping this year, I only made a half hearted attempt last year.

  2. Hillary Fullam says:

    December 19th, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    I went to the link you give to get the free gift card for toys from Kmart but it says I am not in USA and do not qualify, do you know if Kmart is doing this in canada too?

  3. Arnie Katz says:

    August 5th, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Great information for holiday shoppers. Concise and to the point.