Tomorrow is the infamous Black Friday in America, where shoppers go out in throngs in the wee hours of the morning and scrabble, kick, and run for the best deals around. Whenever I think of Black Friday shopping, I envision a newscast from my childhood that showed fresh-faced young mothers beating the crap out of each other to get the last Cabbage Patch doll.
Looking back, I think that incident actually occurred closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving, but that same ruthless consumer mindset is what I relate to Black Friday. “Buyer Beware,” takes on a WHOLE new meaning the day after Thanksgiving. Here are a few tips to keep you sane, safe, and on budget during Black Friday shopping.
Tips for Black Friday Shopping
1. Eat a good breakfast.
Researchers know that shopping on an empty stomach impairs your buying judgment. Be sure to eat a hearty, well-balanced breakfast (even if you’re leaving at 2 AM) and carry high protein snacks with you to keep your energy up and your mind focused.
2. Stay hydrated.
Even mild dehydration can cause crankiness, mood swings, tiredness, and impaired judgement. Drink lots of water throughout the day, especially if stores are warm and crowds are large.
3. Make your largest purchases early in the day.
Experts have found that most people have a limited amount of willpower for making buying decisions. As the day wears on, you may find yourself caving in to good deals that you don’t really need as your willpower ebbs away. Making large purchase decisions while you have plenty of willpower and energy will help you stay on budget.
4. Set a budget and stick to it.
If you know you tend to overspend in the heat of a good sale, try putting cash on a prepaid Visa to use specifically for Black Friday shopping. Once the card is empty, it’s time to head home.
5. ALWAYS ask for a receipt.
Even if you buy a bottle of water on Black Friday, get a receipt. It will help you determine where your money went during the furious shopping hours. Keep your receipts in a special envelope or snap pictures of them on your cell phone to help you stay organized. This will also help keep you sane if you decide to return something later on.
6. Be kind and courteous.
You have the ability to change the attitudes of an entire crowd with a smile, a kind word, a heartfelt holiday greeting, a tasteful joke, or spontaneous Christmas caroling in the check-out line.
7. Keep things in perspective.
When you find yourself glaring at the grandma who just picked up the very last set of red Rachel Ray pans on sale, try to respond appropriately by asking yourself how important that purchase is to you. If you can live with an orange set or really would like the stainless steel instead, don’t get too upset over losing the “great deal.” If you can live without it, it’s meant for fun and enjoyment. Don’t let your purchases turn into a source of negative emotions.
8. Know your stuff before you head out.
Spend some time doing your homework with Black Friday sales flyers. Know the regular retail prices of items you’d like to buy, and use that information to help you decide which deals are worth your time.
9. Use technology to your advantage during Black Friday sales.
If you own a smartphone, there are apps available that allow you to check prices quickly or even scan barcodes to find what nearby stores are charging for the same item.
10. Make your Black Friday shopping excursion a memorable event.
Go out with a group of friends for breakfast at 2 AM before the stores open. Wear ugly Christmas sweaters or matching t-shirts. Snap photos for your holiday greeting cards. Prepare a shopping scavenger hunt for your group. The possibilities are endless, but the goal is to have fun and create memories, all while getting great deals.
What Black Friday shopping tips do you have?