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8 Tips For Surviving Black Friday

8 Tips For Surviving Black Friday

    If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, you might be considering venturing out to the Black Friday sales tomorrow morning. After all, there will be at least a few great deals — and you can do all your holiday gift shopping in one crazy sprint. In order to make it out with your sanity — and your wallet — intact, there are a few Black Friday tips I’d like to share.

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    1. Make Your Shopping List First

    When I was little, I could sit for hours with the Black Friday ads (especially Toys R Us), telling whoever was listening that I wanted pretty much everything on each page. I may have grown out of Toys R Us, but I still see plenty I want flipping through the sales papers. Sometimes, I can even convince myself that I really need some great gadget that I hadn’t actually intended to buy. So, before I even start browsing through the sales papers, I make a list of items that I’m particularly looking for. While I might adapt my list to what’s on sale — maybe swap out a movie title or choose a different video game based on what is available — I make an effort to stick to my list when I start going through the sale papers.

    2. Check The Online Deals

    Many retailers offer online deals for Black Friday. When you add in gas money and the time you might spend standing in line on Friday morning, online sales are even better. Before you brave the crowds, take a look at your favorite websites — and the stores you’re planning to visit. Many sales will kick in at midnight, so you’ll be able to check no matter how early you’re planning on getting in line at the local big box retailer. For some stores, you can order items online and pay the Black Friday price, then pick them up at your local store.

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    3. Pick A Shopping Buddy Who Will Match Your Pace

    My mother will be getting up at 4 AM Friday morning. While I admire her dedication, her Black Friday will be much longer than mine. I prefer to shop at a more comfortable pace, though, so I’ll be going with a different shopping buddy. My mom and my sister — both power shoppers — are much happier pairing up and letting the slow poke (that’s me) go on my own. I do think that having a buddy does make the whole process much easier, though: one person can stand in line while the other person grabs whatever is on the list. Even better, a buddy can help you stick to your list and your budget, avoiding unnecessary spending.

    4. Bring Your Ads With You

    There’s a chance that your discounted item may not ring up as on sale when you actually get up to the cash register. Instead of trying to recall exactly what the sale paper said, pull that ad out and ask the clerk to double check it. You can avoid confusion by carrying your ads with you — and, if you go to a store with a price-matching policy, you may be able to get the same prices that another store is offering. If you’re relying on ads you found online, you might have a harder time getting a deal, though. Some stores won’t even honor the prices listed on their own websites. Printing off the ad can help you convince a clerk, but it’s not guaranteed.

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    5. Be Prepared For Returns

    Returns policies seem to get tighter every year, and they can be worse for Black Friday. For some items, stores may have only a short return policy — and they may charge you a restocking fee. If you aren’t sure if you’ve bought the right size (or are otherwise considering a return), plan on making your return as soon as possible. Keep your receipt handy and pick up gift receipts where necessary.

    6. Use Your Credit Card

    Normally, I’m against using a credit card for most purchases. It’s too easy to run up a big bill, but there are some definite benefits to using plastic on Black Friday. Many credit card companies have much better return protection than stores: a purchase made on your credit card may have guaranteed refund up to 90 days. Credit cards often offer warranty coverage for free on purchases — a much better deal than most of the service contracts offered by stores. Lastly, some cards offer sale price protection. If the price of your purchase is marked down further than the price you paid within a certain time frame, you can get a refund of the difference.

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    7. Forget The Big Electronics

    If you’re planning to find a great deal on an HDTV on Black Friday, I’m afraid that you’re out of luck. Even on Black Friday, it’s rare to see much in the way of sales on big ticket electronics. The small sales are generally just not worth the hassle of trying to get a sales person to help you with anything time intensive when they’re getting slammed with hundreds of shoppers. Trust me, a better deal will come around on that TV.

    8. Skip It Entirely

    There’s nothing wrong with skipping the Black Friday sales. If there’s nothing on sale that you’re interested in, why bother? The entire day is set up to let retailers sell as much stuff as they can — to take as much of your money as they can. But there’s no better place for your money than in your wallet or bank account. So, stay home, relax and take advantage of your leftovers. You’ll be saving money even if you wind up making a few full price purchases down the road.

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

    More About Continuous Learning

    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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