Ok kids, say hello to Danielle- a friend of mine who consistently cracks me up with her sarcasm and is an awesome girl that I’ve gotten to know over the last year. This girl is THE expert on all things Black Friday. So, being as how it’s officially a week away, here is a game plan that may get even me out to the stores. Or keep me at home because I’m terrified Danielle will plow me over… Either/or.
Amy asked me to write a guest blog sharing my Black Friday tips, tricks, and survival strategies. I’m not a blogger (this is actually the first blog I’ve ever written) but I love Amy’s blog and I’m excited to contribute!
Black Friday is my favorite Holiday of the year. As a kick off to the most wonderful time of year, there is no other shopping day like it. Football fans have the Super Bowl, baseball fans have the World Series, hockey fans have the Stanley cup, Michael Phelps has the Olympics, and shoppers, well, we have Black Friday. You do not have to be “Pro” to participate in this event. However, I firmly believe there should be an application process to shop on this day. Unfortunately there isn’t, so dodging the “minor league” players is all part of the fun!
I have shopped on Black Friday every year since I can remember. I “trained” with my mom until I was old enough to drive and go by myself. Mom taught me that Black Friday requires preparation. Just like a marathon runner would not run a race without a training plan, you must also prepare if you want to be successful. You need a clearly identified goal and plan of execution. And though mom was my teacher, I do highly suggest going it alone on Black Friday. Friends and family members will only hold you back. All the Christmas decorations will be on display and shiny items only prove distracting for the inexperienced shoppers. Don’t let their lack of commitment to the plan effect your success. On Black Friday…YOU control your destiny.
I assure you, hold true to these tips and you will not be left crying in your car in the Macy’s parking lot at 5:45 a.m. because you missed a sale. You will not be one of the sad souls holding up the line because you can’t find your coupons. You will not be aimlessly wandering each store, randomly grabbing things. You are on a money saving mission. Your patience will be tested. Your desires questioned. Follow my simple rules and YOU WILL be one of the few champions who can proudly claim, “I conquered Black Friday and purchased every single item on my list with minimal stress!” You will be so on your A-game that when a sales person questions your ability to utilize a coupon, you will quickly educate them on exactly what the rules of engagement are and SAVE EVEN MORE MONEY!
Early Research and Budgeting. Every year I research any websites that are able to get any of the ads early (bfads.net is my favorite). This can be more fun than anything else. Remember to keep in mind that fake ads are sometimes released by stores, but the real ads come out in the paper on Thanksgiving Day. This step leads me to my first “official” tradition: Before Thanksgiving day, I make a list of each person I need to buy gifts for and then the amount I have budgeted to spend on them. This helps me not overspend or go into debt for Christmas. Next to their name I write down 5 or 6 gift ideas for each of them that fit into my budget.
Official Ads and Sorting. First thing I do on Thanksgiving morning is to throw on my slippers and run to the closest 7-11 and buy 2 or 3 newspapers and coffee. I get multiple papers because sometimes not all of the ads get into each paper. As soon as I get home, I grab all the ads and put them into a big pile. I sort through the pile and pick out all the ads I want, throwing out everything else so nothing is mixed up. Once I’ve narrowed down my pile, I sort through it and circle any of the items I want.
Selections and Time of Sale. I take a Post-It and write down all the items I want from a particular store, making certain to write down the hours those items are on sale. I highlight the time because it’s VERY important. The BEST Black Friday sales are only good until a certain time; sometimes before 6:00 or 7:00 A.M, sometimes as late as 1:00 or 2:00.
Order of Attack. Once I’ve figured out the stores I want to go to, I figure out what order to go in. The order is determined by what time the sale ends and how big of a priority the item is (this year I have one major mission; all other items will have to wait until after I get the item…and I WILL get it).
Thanksgiving Dinner. Since this is a food blog, here is where the food part comes in. I try not to over-indulge so that I’m not in a food coma the next day. I taste everything (I like) and take bigger portions of my one or two favorites. I really try to eat as normal of proportions as possible. I tell myself I’m doing it to be on my A-Game Friday morning, but I’m also trying to make healthy decisions and not gain 10 pounds in one day. My belly does not need to be jiggling more than Santa’s on Christmas morning. It’s much easier to resist the temptation of over-eating when you have a bigger goal in mind. Trust me; nothing sucks more than shopping on Black Friday with a hangover (alcohol or food). By exercising a bit of self control, I have a huge advantage. Only one GPS left for the early bird sale? No problem. I can leap over shopping carts and snatch it before food coma chic even realizes it’s there. Only one last past pair of boots left at Macys for the coupon special? Done. I’m paying for them as hangover dude is trying to figure out if Macy’s sells bottled water.
Master List and Coupons. Thanksgiving evening, as I watch Christmas Vacation (or whatever Christmas movie everyone decides to watch together as a family), I grab a zip lock bag, scissors, and the ads. Once those things have been gathered, this is what I do:
-Make a master check-list of the stores I need to go to and the items needed at each store. I write the list in the order that I’m going to the stores which is based on the times of the sales (this is where the Post-It’s come in handy).
-Clip any coupons necessary and place them in individual baggies segregated for each store. Ensure to READ THE FINE PRINT on each coupon. Most have restrictions and you want to make sure you can use them.
-Put a Sharpie in the gallon-sized Zip-Lock bag along with the master list and baggies containing the coupons. The Sharpie is used to check off items as they are purchased (or to draw a mustache on the sleeping husband passed out in the chair at Macy’s….JK…maybe).
-Carefully pick out my clothes for the next morning. Clothes usually include yoga pants, Reebok easy tones (might as well tone my butt as I shop), a tank top and a zippered hoodie. Stores can get super hot and you don’t want to have to carry around a jacket and all of your bags. Picking out my clothes the evening before saves valuable time in the morning.
-Sort through my purse and remove all the junk. I don’t want to lug around a 20-lb purse along with my shopping bags. I keep only essentials which includes: a bottle of water, energy bar and almonds for snacks throughout the morning (bonus tip…If you’re running low on cash, sell your snacks to other people who are waiting in line with you…it’s amazing how much you can get for a bag of fruit snacks at 4 in the morning). Finally, I get out two big reusable shopping bags and then set my alarm and try to get a good night’s sleep (I usually feel like the kid in the Disney commercial).
Day Of. After my alarm goes off, I take a quick shower, add some simple makeup (this is the day you will run into someone you don’t want to see at the store), grab my stuff and GO. In the car I listen to Christmas music (from a carefully selected Christmas shopping playlist) and execute the plan I designed the day before. I go in each store, grab the specific items I need, check them off the list, and get to the next store as quickly (and safely) as possible. I try to stay focused on my goal and ignore all the craziness around me. If I have to wait in a line, I play on my phone or look at my list and plot my next conquest. I try not to impulsively buy anything that is not on the Master List unless it’s an amazing deal I somehow missed while going through the ads.
Success! Once I’m done shopping (usually by noon or 1), I come home, warm up some leftovers and take a nap. Nothing tops sleeping in the sweet satisfaction of shopping success!
What are your shopping tips for Black Friday???