Black Friday Tips To Help You Get The Best Bargains…And Keep Your Sanity

Before your kids even finish eating their Halloween candy, stores — and shoppers — are gearing up for Black Friday.

Black Friday, the huge shopping event that happens the day after Thanksgiving, has grown to mega proportions, luring in tons of shoppers who are willing to forgo sleep and wait in line for hours to grab the best deal. Last year, Black Friday brought out over 139 million shoppers who spent a whopping total of $59.1 billion. If you plan on being one of those shoppers for Black Friday 2014, check out some of the best shopping tips and strategies to make sure that your shopping spree is as safe and bargain-filled as possible.

1. Plan ahead. It sounds simple, but Black Friday can be overwhelming in many ways. You can avoid a lot of the stress just by doing some homework. And, thanks to technology, there is an app for that. Or, rather, several apps for that. The apps can help you with all the early-bird and night-owl specials, listing store hours, and helping you find the best Black Friday deals. Paypal shopping expert Claudia Lombana told Forbes that some of the best of those Black Friday apps include TGIBlackFriday.com and RetailMeNot.com. Some of the apps will also allow you to plan an hour-by-hour itinerary, to help you stay on track.

Also, you may want to do a little legwork before Black Friday, visiting the stores and even trying on clothing so you know what size you need. Check out the advertised blockbusters before you have to elbow your way through a crowd in order to see the item to make sure it’s something you want.

2. Sometimes a “bargain” is not a bargain. For example, a store may advertise sale prices on sheets and linens, but those items are always marked down drastically during the traditional January white sales. Toys, as well, may be marked down, but if you can wait until closer to Christmas, you may get a much better deal. Of course, if a toy or item on your list is very popular, you may just have to pay full price for it if you really want it under your tree. Along with toys, video games and DVDs are also usually marked down even lower as Christmas grows closer, so you may not want to put those items on your Black Friday list.

The big Black Friday deals for 2014 are likely to be the same as they were in 2013 — mostly TVs and laptops. So if you are in the market for electronics, Black Friday is probably your best bet to get those big-ticket items at a bargain price.

3. Save time and money with price matching. Many stores offer this service, where they match the price of any competitor on an item, if the competitor’s price is lower. If you do your homework and utilize apps as well as Black Friday circulars, you may be able to cut down on your number of store stops if you know ahead of time what store has something advertised at a cheaper price. Just make sure you take the sales ad with you.

4. Don’t get distracted. It’s easier said than done when caught up in the moment, but it can cost you time and money. Keep your eye on whatever your prize may be, because if you get distracted by items you don’t really want or need, you may miss the big blockbuster bargains… and blow your budget.

5. Sign up for loyalty programs before Black Friday. Promotions and sales are often released to loyal shoppers before the general public. And other stores’ loyalty programs allow you to earn rewards.

6. Protect your finances. Droves of shoppers often bring out identity thieves. Make sure you keep your debit or credit card in your wallet until you are ready to swipe it, and consider checking your bank accounts or credit accounts several times after Black Friday has ended, just to make sure no one managed to compromise your account numbers.

With these tips in mind, you can have a successful Black Friday event, and spend the rest of the time feeling smug and satisfied with the awesome bargains you scored. Just remember, although reports of violence among Black Friday shoppers has decreased as stores have increased security, these unfortunate incidents do still sometimes happen, so keep your physical safety in mind, as well.

Of course, you can always scrap all of these tips, stay at home in your pajamas, and shop online. Last year, Amazon offered deals on Black Friday that outdid even Walmart!

If you have any other tips or strategies for Black Friday shoppers, please leave them in the comments below!

[Image via betterafter50.com]