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8 Simple Hacks to Be a Black Friday Power Shopper

8 Simple Hacks to Be a Black Friday Power Shopper

In case you didn’t already know, this year, Black Friday is on November 25th. Before you head out to the biggest shopping day of the year, we want to make sure you’re prepared. Whether it’s your first time Black Friday shopping, or you’re a seasoned bargain hunter, follow these sure-fire suggestions to find the best deals and have a positive Black Friday shopping experience.

Do Your Homework: Check Prices Early

While items are marked down on Black Friday, sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re really getting that great of a deal. The whole point of the shopping event is to get unbeatable bargains, so it’s good to know how much items sell for normally.

Do some research on the items on your list. Check the weekly ads and in-store prices leading up to Black Friday, this way you’ll know if the sales are really that great, instead of making a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Use the Web

There are now several websites dedicated entirely to Black Friday deals. You can find out which stores will have the items you want, which places will have the deepest discounts, and double check which stores will be open and when.

You can also find some killer deals online, and if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds and long lines, you can do your shopping entirely online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some people prefer to do their shopping online either for better deals or to avoid the craziness of in-person shopping. 2013 was the first time Cyber Monday overtook Black Friday as the biggest shopping day, and according to this survey, 47 percent of respondents say they plan to shop on Cyber Monday instead of Black Friday in 2016.

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The great thing is you don’t necessarily have to choose. Depending on what you’re looking for and how much time you have, you can take advantage of in-store and online deals and knock out your Christmas shopping in one weekend.

Get an Early Start

Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to wake up even earlier on Black Friday. Instead, take advantage of stores that open their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving. If you don’t have any post-dinner plans, you can score some early bargains.

Also, some places have Midnight Madness, where they open their doors at – you guessed it – midnight. Check your local ads to see which stores in your area will open for Thanksgiving and/or Midnight Madness.

Stick to Your Budget

Even if items are marked down significantly, it’s still very easy to overspend on Black Friday. In 2015, the average Black Friday shopper spent $299.60. Planning ahead can help you save money instead of breaking the bank.

Make a list of your must-have items and come up with a figure you’re willing to spend. Then, take your list with you and stick to it!

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It defeats the purpose of markdowns if you go way above your budget and buy items you don’t need just to take advantage of a deal.

Have a Game Plan

Decide which stores you want to hit and plan your route before you leave the house. Keep in mind that there may be crazy traffic, and account for unusually long lines.

Most stores will send their ads out early or post their deals online. Keep up with these listings so you can prioritize where you need to go to get the items you want.

Double Check Store Policies

This essentially means read the fine print. Will a store price match? What is the return policy on sale items? Can you exchange items or do they only offer store credit?

Double checking store policies can keep you from ending up with unwanted items. Also, while Consumer Report predicts that more stores will have price-match policies in 2016, do your research, as they may not apply to certain Black Friday items.

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There’s an App for That

Navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze may help you maneuver around the throngs of people, but there are also some great shopping apps that can help you with those game time decisions.

Black Friday has a mobile app that will let you see store ads from your mobile phone or tablet, and there are some excellent price-match apps like Shop Savvy that will let you scan bar codes and compare prices instantly.

Divide and Conquer

Most people don’t Black Friday shop alone, but a savvy companion can help you hit more places in less time and find deals.

Enlist a friend to drive the getaway car, or if you go to a mall or location with lots of different stores, have him or her hit one while you take care of the other.

You may also want to enlist a companion to help you pass the time in line.

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Be Prepared

You’ve done your homework, you know where you can find the best deals and which stores you should hit, but you also need to be prepared for the unexpected. Make sure your phone is fully charged, pack snacks for long lines, make sure you have water, wear comfortable shoes, and dress in layers you can easily add or remove.

You’re in for a long night so plan ahead!

Bonus Tip: Be Safe

This one may not help you score an unbeatable deal but it will help you escape Black Friday unscathed. Use caution on the roads and in busy parking lots, don’t go to areas that aren’t familiar and watch out for fellow shoppers in crowded stores. Since 2006, there have been seven deaths and 98 Black Friday-related injuries. We know everyone is looking for a good deal, but it’s not worth getting hurt!

Follow these tips for a safe, successful Black Friday experience. But remember, it’s not all about searching for deals. Don’t forget to reflect on the things you’re grateful for!

Looking for more Black Friday shopping tips? Check out these 10 hacks to have the best Black Friday, ever!

Featured photo credit: 1-0-1471600607127.jpg via media.lifehack.org

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Maile Proctor

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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