Tracy Takes on… Black Friday

Don’t get nervous now, but Black Friday, the BIGGEST shopping day of the year, is right around the corner and if you’re looking to score some super sweet deals you should be prepared!

Read on, memorize, and be ready to fight to the end for that last “LOL Elmo” doll!

The first, and most important tip of all is…

1. Make a List
You don’t want to run around aimlessly, all the while being pushed aside by those parents that did make their lists. Not to mention without a list it becomes about 44% harder to pull the trigger and actually make the purchase.

Even though the shelves will be stocked with lots of pretty, shiny, glittery things that are calling your name (look away, look away) Stick to your list! You made your list for a reason. Stick to it or you will end up leaving empty handed or even worse, broke!

Now, my favorite thing – money. And just so we are all on the same page, the money tree doesn’t actually exist, so you must…

2. Set a Budget
Know exactly how much you can spend and set that budget.
It’s easy to get swept away in the fun frenzy and end up spending way more than you budgeted for. Take only the cash you wish to spend, or just one specific credit card you intend to use and leave the rest at home. Remember, “deviate” is a bad word!

The internet has become a way of life… and shopping online is an everyday way of life (especially at my house). This leads into my next tip. Use the internet for…

3. Research
Check out which stores have which deals and which stores have the BEST deals! Most national shopping chains have Pre-Black Friday deals online and in a lot of cases, they are the same as the one offered in stores on Black Friday.

There are even some retailers out there that will offer online only exclusives that you can’t find in any store.

Put your mouse to work and get to looking now. I usually start checking things out about the second week or November. This gives me almost two full weeks before I actually need to pull the trigger and make my decision to buy online or wait and enjoy the shopping experience along with the rest of my fellow shoppers.

Email… everyone has it and if you don’t, how do you make it through the day I ask? (for a small fee, I’ll even help you set an email account up!)

4. Sign up for Email Alerts
You can’t do this if you don’t have an email!

Head online to your favorite stores and make sure you sign up. You can usually snag some great deals this time of year and this can free up some time you may otherwise spend searching in newspapers, magazines and mail offers or just going store to store. These emails usually mention new and upcoming products, special offers (online and in store), and the main reason for us signing up… COUPONS.

One of my favorite stores, Express has nailed this concept. I received my new Express credit card in the mail, and along with it came a coupon. $60 off $120!

I thought to myself, “How they are making any money?” This is a genius idea. If they make us believe we NEED something because we are getting half off, then we will indeed FIND what we NEED!

Now we all know incredible deals sometimes come with strings attached, so…

5. Check the Return Policies
Sometimes the best deal can go sour when you find out after opening the box that it’s not working/damaged and you can’t return it, exchange it. Or, if you decide it’s just not really what you wanted, you will pay one hefty restocking fee. Read the FINE print! This will save you a lot of headache down the road.

This next tip hits somewhat close to home with me. Growing up and spending a lot of time with my grandfather, whom everyday would get up at the crack of dawn to make his breakfast and coffee while I tried to drown out the banging of pots and pans and the smell of Folgers. Just for you Grandpa, we will call this tip “Grandpa Style” and it’s all about…

6. Knowing the Early Bird Specials
Grandpa Style means not sleeping in, getting up super early, stopping at Starbucks and hitting all of the “doorbusters” that you would have otherwise missed if it hadn’t been for that thoughtful older adult in your life that was training you for your future Black Friday shopping excursions.

Doorbusters are mostly hot ticket items that are being sold with a massive discount or items that hardly ever or never go on sale. They are used to drive shoppers into the store and in most cases are sold with no profit to the retailer. They will sell out right away, so this is why shopping “Grandpa Style” will pay off in the end.

Friends, family – force them to go with you. They can either help push the cart or push other shoppers, should they get in your way!

7. Divide and Conquer
By banding together, you can get the job done more efficiently and help increase your change of scoring a great deal. Remember, there’s no “I” in team!

No heels, I repeat no heels! This will be one of the longest shopping days of your life. Leave the stilettos at home – regardless of how cute they are! We all know they ARE NOT comfortable. Saying they are is just something we’ve been trained to say when people see our shoes and say how uncomfortable they look, and we really know they are but don’t want anyone to really know that they are and we’re wearing them because simply, they are just cute… (whew, did you get all that?) That mess leads me into my last tip…

8. Dress in Comfortable Clothing 
Comfortable shoes and dressing in layers is a must! Since you will most likely be standing outside (lined up to get into the store) and since not all of us live in Florida it’s gonna be a little chilly.

Once inside, you will be with millions of other shoppers, running from toy aisle to toy aisle, this will make you wish you had a bikini under that parka. Leave those bulky coats at home along with the fussy clothes. Removable and comfy is your middle name today. And if you’re shopping “Grandpa Style”, you won’t have time to get all gussied up anyway, right?!

So, there we have it. Tips to live by! Enjoy Black Friday shopping… I’ll be sleeping in (Sorry Grandpa!)