It is one week to Black Friday, although we should technically call it Black Thanksgetting, but more on that later.
Well, for those of you that are wanting to make the most of your shopping experience, we often think like Frankie Heck (from The Middle :)) and have to be a running, screaming, wrestling, grabbing and throwing and ultimately land on the news to be successful. Now while neither of us have ever been a fan of setting aside adult human maturity and morals for the sake of saving a buck, many have this picture and perhaps experience! Well, we hope to teach you to be a Black Friday shopping Hobbit and get exactly what you want without hardly being seen.
So let us give you tips to help you score the deals without the embarrassment and adult temper tantrums. We have been Black Friday shoppers for many years, although in a soon coming article, we will tell you some secrets from us from the past 2 years.
We personally know the thrill of finding that amazing deal, the rewarding feeling of knowing that all that work paid off (you got the item!) and the misery of expending all that energy to have been beaten out by that person you were standing behind for all those hours before! These tips are dedicated to you – the dedicated money-saving, Christmas wish fulfillin’ shopper – to those that will stand in line for hours – freezing off your extremities with your one goal in mind – to save as much as you can on that fateful day!
So a proper Black Friday preparation takes a few days to successfully pull off! Here’s your timeline, tips and even a download to help you make this the best year yet!
Timeline and Tips
1-week to a few days before:
1. Print off your Black Friday Planner Download page from the Christmas and Holiday Planner so that you can be as slick as sly as a fox when the sale arrives. You can see the details on this download further on this link HERE.
2. Check out the early ads on Black Friday specific sites. Many retailers have also been releasing their ads online to view ahead of time as they know if they don’t these Black Friday sites will do it for them. Preview those ads online and using your gift plan (hopefully from the planner we provided for you where you have your price point listed) you can make your plan with your gift plan and your Black Friday Planner.
3. Call the stores that have that item and ask the following questions – this may seem like a lot of work, but trust us, it’s an important step, otherwise your efforts may be in vain!
- What is your return policy on items from your Black Friday sale? Also, find out if there will be such things as restocking fees, or a short window of returning deadline. You will want to know this to prevent buyer’s remorse on spending for something in the moment and later find out the return policy is not in your favor.
- Will you be accepting competitor’s prices or ads if I find a lower price, whether on Friday or at a later date if that item goes even lower at your store or a competitor?
- Will all of the stores doors open at opening time on the ad date listed and will there be specific doors that I should line up at? By asking this question, you could prevent much unnecessary frustrations when you arrive! We have stood in the wrong line only to find we were further back than even fathomable all because we assumed the person in front of us was correct about the line (who got it from the person in front of them and so on….). Also, stores like Walmart will be open all night and customers can wait in the store. Find this out too and the details of what is allowed when.
- Will you be handing out tickets outside for the ad items based on whose in line first? Or will it be line up and run in? The reason why is many retailers like Best Buy are handing out tickets for items based on whose in line first. They will go through the line from the beginning and give the number of tickets as for each item in the store. In this case, the line will probably start forming quite early from when the sale starts, like even the night before (or two nights before!). Just be sure that the store you are planning to hit will not have “awarded” all of the tickets before you even get there in the wee hours of the morning.
- How many will they have in stock? The ad oftentimes states the stores will have no less than a certain number, but its useful to ask prior to the day of the sale whether the store will have just the minimum or additional. This will help you determine your “risk factor” and how early you will need to get into line to get your item.
- Where in the store will those items be located when the sale starts? Depending on the store, if they are open on Thanksgiving, you might be able to walk the aisles and scope out all the locations of the products you are looking to purchase. Often times, the hot items are not where you would think they should be. Walmart is notorious for doing this. The popular toys might be found in the electronics section in the middle of the aisle and if you are over by toys, you will miss your running chance. We did this one year specifically for some of our sons toys and we were able to maximize and get everything we planned to get. You might be able to ask many of these questions if you are already in the store during this time.
- Will you have a map of the store where all the deals will be that I can download or print from somewhere? This bit of information can be extremely helpful to you! Walmart (among other stores) has provided a “deals map” for the day/time of the sale and many other retailers have jumped on the bandwagon.
The Day Before:
- Pull those ads out of the newspapers
- Find the stores and products you wanted to buy and circle them – then write out a clearly written list and staple it on the front of the ad. This saves you loads of time while you are actually shopping to not have to flip through the pages while running through the store. On your list, make the extra notes that you discovered in the days leading up to this, like next to the item on your list, show where each item is supposed to be located based on your research and any additional notes. If the store does have a “deals map,” print this off, make notes and staple it to your ad!
- Determine opening times – If you are hitting multiple stores, you will need to be very slick about your plan and strategize as to where to go first!
- Check online – Check the ads and online to find out if you can nab the deals online before the in-store sale starts. You just might find that the retailer has started their Black Friday sale online the evening before and you might just luck out and get the items you wanted, sleep in and stay warm! That would be the best news!
- Charge your cell phones – There’s nothing worse than being in line with hours to go to only realize your cell phone is about ready to die and your fellow Black Friday-ers are going to lose contact with you in minutes! Make sure you are charged and ready to coordinate your buying!
- Pack a snack – seriously sounds silly. But one year, I waited in line for hours and running on no fuel made me cranky, slow and irritable and ultimately unsuccessful on many of the items because I didn’t take care of myself. We both have waited in long lines since that time, but we come prepared. Hip pack it 80’s style to keep your hands free and your body fueled. So get this ready 🙂
The time has come and the day has arrived:
- Shop with a partner – Find a partner to shop with so that you can maximize your time – either go into one store together and head in opposite directions if you are buying multiple items in a store, or, as soon as the store opens, one gets in line immediately and one gets the item. This will save you potentially hours of time! Checking out is the worst part of the morning. But by doing this, you could hit the store that opens at 4 am, be out quickly and hit the 5 am store, etc.!
- Ditch the cart – I know carts are awesome, so you can have a cart if you have a shopping partner, but those first few minutes are crucial and a cart is a major slow downer. Unless you intend to ram people and potentially cause injury, you will be moving slowly and I am not willing to hurt others. I just want to be faster than others without injury 🙂 So if your shopping partner has a cart, guess what, they grab a cart and get in line and you “drop” off your items. If you have a bunch of smaller items, take a reusable shopping bag to carry with you.
- Assign one person the navigator spot back at home – Online retailers are getting pretty savvy and want your business. If you need someone to watch the kids or just have the manpower do do this, leave one person at home on the computer watching for those online stores for those products you are looking for. You might be surprised that you can get many of the supplies online without you even needing to stand in line!
- Shop early – As the sale times have usually ended by 11 am.
- Take the ads with you – In cases of price discrepancy or in case the retailer will match competitor’s ads, its always easier and faster to have your own ads to confirm that price you have been waiting to pay.
- Look for cash registers in smaller departments – You may find yourself having everything you want to buy in your hands within five minutes of entering the store only to find yourself leaving the store hours later after staying in line. Although a bit fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, we have found jewelry, cosmetic, and appliance registers with shorter lines often to help get us out of the store quicker and on to the next store’s sales.
- Shop with cash or prepaid/set budgeted amount from a debit card. We say this only from experience in our pre-thrifty days as Black Friday was good on deals but awful on the bank account. It was a contributor to our heavy debt load. But it doesn’t have to be!
Have more tips? We would love to hear them! Share them with all of us so we can all be ready to go. The countdown to Black Friday is under a week so lets all get ready and we’ll see you in line!!
Also, don’t forget about the 17-Page Christmas Planner HERE.