If you're planning on scoring some deals on Black Friday, prepare ahead of time to make sure you walk away happy with what you've bought and spent. Below are 11 tips to make your Black Friday shopping trip a success:
1. Make a list
Black Friday is not the best time to go out just to browse. To maximize your savings (and prevent yourself from overspending just because something looks like a great deal!), make two lists -- a shopping list of the deals you want to take advantage of and a gift list with the people that you still need to buy for. Start by scanning the ads and writing down any deals that are within your budget for yourself or as a gift. Take a separate list with you so that if you come across a great deal on a fondue set, you'll be able to quickly scan your list to see that you still need to buy for Aunt Mildred, who happens to love fondue.
Once you have your shopping list done, decide which items are your highest priority. Prioritize both by store and by item so that you start with the deals that are most important to you.
3. Be realistic
Realistically, you're going to have to choose just one doorbuster item at one store as your top priority because you simply won't be able to wait in line to be the first person at each store. You'll also want to be realistic about how much you can get done in the amount of time you have to shop and how long your energy will hold up.
4. Take a shopping buddy
That said, taking a shopping buddy who is interested in the same deals as you is a great way to score multiple deals at your first stop. Split up when the doors open and each head for a different section. Pick up two products instead of just one and then split them between you.
5. Leave the kids at home
Dragging young children around on Black Friday will most likely just make you, them and everyone around you miserable. You will probably end up spending more, getting less of what you want and feeling frustrated in the process. Leave the kids home so you can focus on your list, your budget and the deals, and you'll enjoy your day much more.
6. Research prices ahead of time
It's important to remember that not all advertised deals are as great as they seem. Spend some time researching the low prices of any items you're hoping to score so that you know what's really a deal and what's not.
7. Wear layers
If you're planning to stand in line outside early in the morning, it may be chilly. You'll want to dress accordingly so that you're not miserably cold while you wait, but be sure to wear appropriate layers so that you can peel them off as the day warms up and as you race around the stores!
8. Bring snacks and water
Pack plenty of snacks and water so that you have something to eat and drink while you wait in line or drive between stops. Waiting too long to eat because you're afraid you'll miss a great deal will affect your mood and energy level, so don't do it!
9. Set your expectations
While it's important to have a list of the items you'd like to get so that you don't end up wandering through a store, don't expect to get everything on your list. Some items may be sold out, shopping at a certain store may take longer than you planned, or you may just run out of steam. Work through your list in order of priority so that you get the most important gifts taken care of first.
10. Be friendly
Some people approach Black Friday like a contest and consider everyone else their competition. They become so focused on their goal -- to save money and buy more stuff -- that they forget to take the time to be friendly. Try being friendly instead, building a camaraderie with the shoppers and store employees around you. A little smile goes a long way!
11. Carry the sale ads with you
If you've made detailed notes about what you want to buy and plan to stick to your list and budget, you may not need the sale ads. But it's better to carry them all day and not need them than to want them and not have them. For example, if you're planning to buy a GPS at a specific store, but it's sold out when you arrive, you'll be able to check to see what the sale prices are at the other stores on your list. Or you might come across a deal that you hadn't noticed in the ad and want to compare the price to the other sales to make sure it's a good deal.
Bonus Tip: Wait until Cyber Monday
While many people find the challenge of Black Friday challenging and fun, it can be stressful and frustrating if your heart's not really in the game. If you're looking for great deals but don't want to deal with the hassle and the crowds, plan on shopping online on Cyber Monday instead. I can guarantee you'll find all the best deals here at Deal Seeking Mom, and even if they're not quite as good as the doorbusters in stores, the extra sleep and low-key day following Thanksgiving may be worth it!
Do you usually shop on Black Friday? Share your best tip in the comments!
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with compensation for the time and effort spent creating this post. However, my participation in this program is voluntary and my opinions are my own -- always have been, always will be.