Advertising
Advertising

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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    More by this author

    50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time 8 Replacements for Google Notebook 5 Sites Where You Can Sell Your Photos 7 Tools to Find Someone Online 19 Entrepreneurship Websites Worth Checking Out

    Trending in Featured

    1 Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) 2 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 5 40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2020 Updated)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Advertising

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Advertising

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    Advertising

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

    Advertising

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Read Next