Top 10 shopping tips for Black Friday

Ahhh, the day after Thanksgiving. While some cheer on football teams and others flee their families at warp speed, the savviest of them all work off the carb overload while taking advantage of the season’s greatest holiday deals on Black Friday. Here’s your insider guide to nabbing the deals you want, while keeping your sanity on this day of mall madness.

Pre-game.

The best way to maximize time and score deals on Black Friday is to scope out products of interest beforehand, online and in newspapers. Look for reviews on consumer reports or eopinions.com. Use sites like pricegrabber.com or bizrate.com to comparison shop. And don’t forget to bring the ads you scout with you to avoid any register arguments and to take advantage of price matching opportunities. To really get ahead of the game, visit stores on Wednesday and map out your routes to be as time efficient as possible.

Create a playbook.

Make a list (and check it twice!) of exactly who you are shopping for on Black Friday and have an idea of what you want to get for each person, or at the very least the amount you will spend on each. Having a defined list is essential so 1) you don’t feel overwhelmed, and 2) you don’t buy unnecessary gifts. Also, since now is the time to land great deals, include loved ones with upcoming birthdays, weddings and so on, on your list.

Save sleeping for Saturday.

To score the sweetest deals you gotta be both a night owl and an early bird. Night owl specials start at midnight at select stores (like Toys R Us or Old Navy which opens at 3am and Kohls at 4am) and on many websites that allow you to buy online and then pickup in-store. And on Black Friday, early birds don’t get worms, they get extra savings such as 20% off between 5-10am or one of the limited doorbuster items available – but prepared, for these you may need to arrive as early as 2am and cozy up in line with other eager shoppers.

Dress smart.

Black Friday is not the day to show off that you know how to killer at the mall. No, this is a day to show off that you know how to cash in on as many killer deals as possible in 24 hours. So, lose the heels, wear layers to accommodate going from the cool outdoors to the stuffy indoors, pack snacks to avoid having to stop for what would be on any other day a deserved leisurely lunch and don’t forget your Starbucks card for quick caffeine fixes.

Divide and conquer.

A Black Friday shopping buddy can not only make tackling this day more fun, he/she also serves as a strategic partner in crime. Choose between the following: a) a determined, unselfish friend, b) a useful husband who takes direction really well, or c) a reliable, not too young child who doesn’t complain and isn’t going to ask you to buy him/her anything. Essentially what you need is someone who you communicate with well and understands the value of working together in chaos.

Up next: The top 5 Black Friday shopping tips

Comparison shop… in the moment!

If you didn’t geek out over all of the deals before Black Friday or perhaps you stumble upon a deal that looks too-good-to-be-true while in the field, you need not worry. Simply consult one of the many price-comparison tools available for your cell such as Scanbuy Shopper, or call that friend watching football at home to do a quick internet check for you so you can be sure you are securing the best price.

Haggle.

The art of bargaining is back and all it takes to score an unmarked deal is asking someone with the power to make it happen… well, that, a friendly demeanor,  a good reason to get a deal such as perhaps you will be buying multiples of an item, and a negotiating start point such as 10% off or an extra game controller with purchase. It can’t hurt to ask and you might be surprised at the results when you do. Customers from Best Buy to Neiman’s have reported successful haggling missions on Black Friday.

Resist temptation.

We know, it is so hard to deny that dreamy pair of boots that is half off or the buy-one get one deal on your favorite perfume on Black Friday, but shopping for yourself only results in spending more money than intended and keeps you from crossing items off your list. Instead, put all of your fall-in-love items on your wishlist and if Santa doesn’t deliver, treat yourself when prices hit rock bottom after the holidays.

Be ready to commit.

Many stores are changing their formerly generous return policies this year so know the store guidelines before you swipe this season. Since prices will likely go lower, you may find things you like more and who knows today’s Mr. Right may become yesterday’s news, be to develop a sound system for keeping your receipts as you are sure to need them if you want to attempt a return this year.

Play nice.

Don’t ruin your good Black Friday shopping karma by cutting others in line or fighting over the last cashmere sweater. Remember, everyone is fighting the good fight on Black Friday so instead of letting the day bring out the worst in you, show your festive spirit and spread a little camaraderie instead. Who knows – it may come back to you later on with a to-die-for deal. Not to mention, Santa’s watching!