Tips to make the best of Black Friday

Posted Nov. 24, 2010, at 9:52 p.m.

Plan ahead

Not only is it important to have your shopping list, it’s also vital to make sure the gas tank in the car is full. Also check the weather to allow extra time to defrost, shovel and travel if necessary.

Prioritize

When making your shopping list, be sure to prioritize. Remember, preparing for Black Friday shopping is nothing like creating your weekly grocery list. Rank deals to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck even if it means skipping some sales that won’t save you as much cash.

Map it out

It might sound crazy, but time is key when it comes to being the first in line at your top priority store and still making it to the next destination. Avoid having to make left turns. If possible, use side roads or routes that aren’t the most common on the GPS.

Bring your fliers

If you miss out on an item at one store, your fliers will be handy to see if the item is offered at another location. Plus, you’ll have the store hours at your fingertips. Just remember that in Maine, the big-box stores aren’t open Thanksgiving Day no matter what the national fliers tell you. If you’re lucky enough to be ahead of schedule, you might even be able to fit in an extra stop or two.

Don’t be impulsive

Stick to your list as closely as possible. It’s those impulsive buys that tend to ruin our hard-planned budgeting. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you buy something not on the list as long as it’s a great deal, something you’ll use or is the perfect gift.

Know what’s online

You can save yourself some time and maybe even get a little extra shuteye if you know what deals are available online. It’s also a great way to compare products and prices to see if that Black Friday special really is too good to pass up. Don’t forget to check out options from local businesses. The big-box stores aren’t the only ones that participate in Black Friday sales.

Know what to pack

That’s right. There is some packing involved for the serious Black Friday shopper. A thermos of coffee, caffeinated of course, tea or hot chocolate can do the trick when standing outside waiting for stores to open. Snacks are a must when it comes to refueling between stores, and if you bring your own, you avoid losing precious time by having to stop someplace along the way. A pen or two will help to keep track of where you’ve been and what you’ve purchased.

Dress appropriately

Dress in layers and be sure to wear comfortable shoes. It can be cold outside waiting in line for stores to open, but once you’re in the store, racing to find your purchases or standing in long lines at the checkout, things can warm up quickly.

Work as a team or fly solo

There are different methods to Black Friday shopping. While some prefer to go it alone to avoid being waylaid by shopping companions; others like sharing the experience with family and friends. It’s not uncommon to see couples and cronies communicating within stores using walkie-talkies or cell phones to provide status updates. Some choose to split the list, work together to navigate the crowds and spot prime parking places. And my favorite — one person waits in the checkout line — many of which can get very long very fast — while the other does the shopping.

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