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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 March 30, 2020

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

    So, what to do in free time?

    Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

    Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

    1. Reading Files

    Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

    Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

    2. Clear out Inbox

    Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

    If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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    3. Phone Calls

    Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

    Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

    4. Make Money

    This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

    If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

    5. File

    No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

    But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

    Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

    6. Network

    Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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    7. Clear out Feeds

    If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

    8. Goal Time

    Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

    If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

    Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

    9. Update Finances

    Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

    Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

    10. Brainstorm Ideas

    Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

    11. Clear off Desk

    Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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    Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

    12. Exercise

    Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

    13. Take a Walk

    This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

    It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

    14. Follow up

    Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

    When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

    15. Meditate

    You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

    Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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    16. Research

    This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

    If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

    17. Outline

    Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

    18. Get Prepped

    Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

    You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

    19. Be Early

    Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

    Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

    20. Log

    If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

    Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

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    Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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