Black Friday Survival Guide — 8 Tips to Win America’s Shopping Thunderdome
By now we all know what Black Friday has become. It’s early mornings in the cold. It's pushy crowds and long lines. It’s ... enough to keep you snuggled up at home.
And every year we tell ourselves that’s what we’re doing -- we’re staying home and avoiding the insanity. But every year the retailers get to us. The deals are too good. There are holiday gifts we need and we really want to save some cash. As it does every year, Black Friday will call to you again this year — so here’s how to survive it.
Make a Plan
You will go insane running around town, waiting in line and missing out on deals on Black Friday if you don’t plan ahead. Take some time to choose the deals you’re really interested in, make a schedule based on when stores are opening, and if there are doorbusters you want to pick up, map out your route so you have a minimum of driving and parking to do.
And for the sake of your bank account, make a list of the items you actually need to find and buy that day. Impulse buys are especially tantalizing on Black Friday, and that’s what the stores are counting on.
Do Your Research
If you’re going to save the kind of money that makes being out on Black Friday worthwhile, you have to know where the best deals are. Check online for who has the lowest prices on the things you need or the best doorbusters to drag you in early. Study the store schedules, because some deals don't last all day.
Be aware that some stores discount old models of products because new models are released for the holidays. And some doorbusters are just designed to get you in and spending on deals that aren’t that great. Then, search for coupons. Many stores will let you stack discounts on Black Friday, and this can make all the insanity worth it.
There are so many apps to help you in ways you never even thought of on Black Friday. We’ve only just stumbled on a few of them
- Shopular can help you find valuable coupons and save even more money.
- FastMall can show you the layout of your nearest mall so you can make a beeline for the best deals.
- Amazon’s app will be handy for looking up items to see if the discount the store is offering is really good or you’re just caught up in the moment.
- The TheBlackFriday.com app will show you all the deals and when to get them.
- Load Waze on your phone to use real-time traffic updates to plan the fastest routes to the stores, and the app will even remember where you parked your car.
- If you get the Starbuck’s app, you can prepay and order coffee from your car so you don’t have to wait in line at the store.
- Update your music and game apps so you have tunes and entertainment for needed energy boosts and long lines.
Use technology to your advantage and stay sane.
Black Friday shopping is a whole different kind of shopping. This isn’t a champagne-sipping movie-montage shopping spree. Black Friday is a gauntlet and you need to be dressed for this.
That means comfortable shoes, and clothes that will keep you comfortable if you have to wait outside for a while. Layers are important if it’s cold out, because the packed stores will be warm and you’ll heat up. Be relaxed and able to move easily. And maybe wear clothes you don’t mind ripping or getting dirty.
Bring a Friend
We learned the importance of the buddy system early in life and it still applies now. If you want to make it through Black Friday, you need to bring a friend. This person can wait in line while you grab that last bargain. A shopping buddy can help you find the last parking spot. She can help talk you off the ledge when you think you need that deeply discounted sequined hat. This person will help keep you calm and entertained -- and bail you out of jail if things get out of hand.
Hydration and balanced blood sugar are keys to remaining comfortable and calm while out with the masses on Black Friday. You really need to make sure you have some water and snacks on hand. Don’t go crazy with beverages that are going to force you to wait in a bathroom line, but do realize that you aren’t going to have time to stop to eat if you want the best deals. These also make good bargaining chips if someone else has picked up the last available toy you had your eye on.
You’ve done your homework and made your plan. Turkey and stuffing are history, and tomorrow is the big day. It’s time to get ready. Make sure your snacks are packed (yes, you’re full now but you’ll be hungry at the store). Your phone and your portable charging station should both be fully charged, as it’s a long day of shopping and apps do you no good if your phone dies. Speaking of apps, make sure they’re updated and your coupons are loaded.
Your car should be gassed up so it doesn’t slow you down. Get that prepaid coffee card loaded up so you can get in and out even if you’ve already overspent on sales. Finally, rest. You need to sleep as much as possible because 3 a.m. rolls around quick, and being tired will not help you on Black Friday.
Here’s the thing. It’s Black Friday. It’s supposed to be fun (believe it or not). It’s supposed to be a kickoff to the holiday season that also includes saving a lot of money on things you’re going to buy anyway. You must chill. Everyone must chill. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a doorbuster or are too late for the best deal on the newest gadget. There are always more gadgets. There are always more deals. Most stores have online bargains or rain checks. They want to sell the stuff. There’s always Cyber Monday.
And really, most people don’t pay attention, but a lot of this stuff gets a deep discount right before Christmas because most people have already shopped. This is just shopping, not a post-apocalyptic battle for the survival of your family and all your descendants. Have fun.