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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 July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

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