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6 tips for making the most of Black Friday

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Cheryl.Lock)
at 6:30AM Thursday November 8, 2012
under Holidays

With Halloween behind us, most people have moved on to planning for the next big holiday to hit us—Thanksgiving.

Although, let's be honest, for savvy shoppers it's the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, that really brings the thrills. With its promise of super savings and credit card friendly deals, Black Friday is a budget shopper's dream.

Still, no matter how many times you've been through it before, there's always something new to learn to get the most savings out of the day. "People are shopping on Black Friday for multiple items, typically, and it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of getting all the deals," says Andrea Deckard, author of SavingLifestyle.com.

To keep from getting caught up in the frenzy yourself, follow Deckard's preparation suggestions to get the most out of the biggest savings day of the year.

Your wallet will thank you.

1. Start your research online. Deckard suggests signing up for email newsletters from your favorite retailers now so you'll be privy to the types of sales they'll be offering on Black Friday. "When you're on the retailer emails, you'll learn about the sales and deals before the rest of the public," she said. "This gives you a little more time to plan your strategy.

2. Make a strategic plan. It's important to know which stores you want to visit ahead of time, as well as what items you want to purchase at each store. "This will ensure you are focusing on things you actually need, and saving the most," Deckard said. "Savings Lifestyle even has a Black Friday price database that you can search quickly to find the best price on all Black Friday sale items as you create a shopping list."

3. Scope the store out ahead of time. Deckard suggests doing a run-through of the stores you plan to visit on Black Friday before the day actually arrives. "Walk through and find the special Black Friday display sections for the items you want to purchase. Many times people make a mad dash for these areas because the most inventory is placed there. Don't forget to check where the merchandise normally resides in the store, as well."

4. Conduct price comparison searches. While Black Friday historically has the best prices, consider doing a quick online search to see if you can find the item priced the same, or lower, than the Black Friday sale price being offered. "Knowing who has the best price will help you determine if the trip out is worth it," says Deckard. Similarly, when considering what you'd like to actually purchase on Black Friday, think about the items that are offering the biggest potential savings and get to those first. "Would you rather save $100 on a gaming system, or $20 on the blender," says Deckard. "Only spend your time in line, and online, waiting to get those items that can help you save the most."

5. Don't forget online shopping. "I'm a big online Black Friday shopper," says Deckard. "Several years ago we contemplated going out for one of the doorbusters on Black Friday, but when we passed the store at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the line was already entirely too long. I was willing to give up the $200 savings to not camp out the night before." It's important to consider the value of your time over money when it comes to these deals as well, and shopping online can be an excellent alternative to going in-person. Plus, as an added bonus, Savings.com can help you find exclusive coupon codes for retailers, so you can save even more.

6. Stock up on discount gift cards ahead of time. If you know you'd like to shop at certain stores this season, consider purchasing discounted gift cards in advance from places like eBay Auctions, Plastic Jungle and Gift Card Rescue. Sites like these allow you to purchase the gift cards at anywhere from 5%-25% off the value of the card. Just check ahead of time that you can use the card on already on-sale items before planning to use them all up on Black Friday.

Cheryl Lock is a personal finance writer and former editor at LearnVest and Parents magazine. When she's not writing, she enjoys travel, which she blogs about at wearywanderer.wordpress.com.

(Source: Savings.com)