Preparing for Thanksgiving goes beyond thawing a frozen turkey or whipping up grandma’s famous pumpkin pie. If you’re expecting a house full of guests or traveling by car or air to spend the holiday with loved ones, the last thing from your mind is figuring out how to tackle busiest shopping day of the year. However, with the overwhelming number of doorbuster sales that retailers are promoting, heading out on Black Friday without a plan could leave you confused and stressed when trying to decide where to find the best deals. To make your life easier, follow this budget-proof shopping guide to learn how to sort the real deals form the duds so you get more bang from your Black Friday bucks.
#1: Take Inventory
While Black Friday is a great time to snag sales on gifts for loved ones, it also offers the chance to save on other household and personal items. Whether you need to replace a broken kitchen gadget or buy new bedding, the day after Thanksgiving provides plenty of opportunities to purchase these items for less. Begin by taking inventory of your home to find items you need and make a shopping list including possible holiday gift ideas as well. Stick to this list to navigate through the overwhelming number of offers which will ultimately keep you from purchasing on impulse. Otherwise, you may end up buying more than you planned and doubling up on items you have. Organize your shopping list by using the Santa’s Bag App for Apple and Christmas Gift List App for Android which will help you track your purchases and spending, too.
#2: Plot a Route
Now that you have a detailed list of the items you plan to purchase organized, start researching prices and plot your shopping route by comparing Black Friday ads online. Most retailers post virtual circulars on their websites before Thanksgiving so you have access to all the door busters before. Use these ads to compare prices and review store hours so you can devise a strategy to maximize your time, fuel and savings. Don’t forget to read product reviews and model details to ensure the merchandise is of good quality and that the item offers all the desired features you’re looking for. Some manufacturers keep prices cheap on doorbusters by tweaking the merchandise for the sales event and that means you may not get everything you expect.
#3: Track Prices
Retailers will be fluctuating prices throughout the day on Black Friday to match competitor offers. According to a recent Forbes article, Amazon changed prices over 2,800 times on tens of millions of products last Black Friday week. This practice will most certainly continue this year so it’s important to check prices before you checkout to ensure you are getting the best deal. Use the RedLaser or SnapTell app for instore price comparison. Continue tracking price drops and set sale alerts using the SnapUp App which will alert you if any items you bought get cheaper throughout the day. If something gets marked down further, you should request a price adjustment.
#4: Sweeten the Deal
Most consumers assume that retailers don’t offer additional deals on top of doorbusters during Black Friday sales. However, many brands these days are offering coupons to help sweeten the deal. Sign up to receive your favorite store or brand’s e-newsletter to get updates on Black Friday sales and exclusive coupons. Follow brands on Twitter and create retail lists to track doorbuster deals quickly. Check CouponSherpa.com for any printable coupons or use their free mobile app for additional savings in store. Online shoppers should check for free shipping codes at sites like FreeShipping.org to avoid delivery charges.
#5: Trade Gadgets for Gift Cards
If you are planning to take advantage of any gadget deals on Black Friday for your family like a new tablet or video gaming console, considering trading in old tech toys to boost your budget. Many retailers like Target and Amazon offer electronic trade in programs that provide you with a gift card for swapping in an old gadget. This is a great way to supplement your spending and help you save more money. Keep in mind, some stores will provide free gift cards with purchase which is another good promotion to take advantage of as you can use those cards to cover the cost of other holiday gifts.
#6: Check Return Policies
Retailers typically extend return dates through January for holiday purchases but there could be other restrictions that make an exchange a hassle. Before you check out, ask a store associate how long you have to make a return or exchange, if you will receive cash back or if they only offer store credit or if there are any restocking fees especially for electronics. Many retailers post a 15 percent restocking fee on gadgets so make sure it’s exactly what you want before buying or you could lose money on the return. For online orders, you want to find out if the online store charges for return shipping or if you are eligible to make returns at a local brick and mortar location.
#7: Shop Early
If your schedule is filled with family obligations or you simply rather not deal with the long lines and overcrowded parking lots, take advantage of pre-Black Friday sales. In fact, many experts agree that some of the best door busters will be posted on Thursday. You don’t have to leave Thanksgiving dinner early either because stores will be open late. This gives you a chance to walk off your turkey while beating the crowds and snagging some of the season’s hottest deals. For instance, Kmart will be releasing a selection of sales that start when doors open at 6am on Thursday like $50 off a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7” Tablet (plus, loyalty members get $20 back in points) and buy one, get one for $1 on all footwear. Review the circular here for additional doorbuster savings. You can even shop and burn some calories before you sit down to stuff yourself silly!