Ready, Set, Shop. The dishes aren't even cleared from the Thanksgiving table and shoppers are off to the mall to get the season started with a cha-ching. Black Friday has become a sporting event that some savvy shoppers look forward to all year. So before you find yourself among the elbow throwing crazies, here are a few simple tips to make the day both economical and enjoyable.
Black Friday 101:
-Do your homework. My basic rule for saving money and time is to shop prepared. Make your list ahead and preview the items that are on sale. Most large retailers like, Target, JCPenney and Kohls have already released their Black Friday circular online. You can even use a site like theBlackFriday.com to see all the ads available in one place.
-Load up on apps. Make sure your phone is loaded and updated with all the apps you need for your shopping day. Apps can be helpful to price compare and even provide additional discounts. My favorites are Target Cartwheel and Brad's Black Friday.
-Map it. Driving around is not where you want to spend your day. Map your route ahead to maximize time, parking and gas.
-Shop with a buddy. Everything is more fun with a pal. There is a practical reason to shopping with a friend on BF. Parking will be an issue everywhere, so consolidating cars is both courteous and efficient. Also, split up and tackle different departments or shops for each other. If you do shop with a buddy, make sure you both have a game plan before you head out. Know how much time you both have, where you want to go and how you will divide and conquer.
-Take regular "rest" breaks. Seems like an obvious one, but getting caught up in the pace of power shopping can sometimes leave you in an uncomfortable situations. Take bathroom breaks regularly even if its not urgent. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in line for 30 minutes or trying to get out of a crowded parking lot and realizing you waited too long.
-Stay powered up and refreshed. Keep some power snacks in your purse and drink plenty of water. Getting overly hungry can make you edgy, but be courteous and do not take drinks or snacks in the stores. Crowded aisles and loaded carts may result in you or the merchandise wearing your Snickers bar.
-Layer up. It may be quite chilly outside, but often the inside of a store can be quite warm. Wear clothing that is comfortable and not bulky. Carrying around a big puffy coat through a crowded store will not make you happy or popular.
-You may be shopping but they are working. Finally, keep in mind that you may be in the store for 45 minutes, but the folks behind the register are looking at 8 hours ahead starting at the crack of dawn. Be respectful and polite to employees who are likely spread way too thin.
Have fun. Enjoy the festive vibe and be patient. Don't plan on a quick trip to any retailer on BF. If you are in a hurry you will only find yourself frustrated. Instead, raise your peppermint mocha and wish your fellow shoppers a Happy Black Friday!