How To: Make the Most of Black Friday

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that marks the first shopping day of the Christmas season, is only a few days away. Black Fridays are known for chaotic shopping experiences with overcrowded stores offering highly discounted products catering to deal seekers. If you're looking to score some gadgets for yourself or gifts for others on Black Friday, it is best to prepare ahead of time.

Preparation

The best strategy is to be prepared. You probably won't want to just waltz into your retailer of choice without knowing what you want to purchase. Look through the Black Friday ads several days in advance and write down all of the things you want. In addition, note the price and model number if possible. That way, if you arrive at the store and none of the things you wanted are on the sales floor you can give an employee that model number and have them quickly scan their inventory. You can find various Black Friday advertisements at some of the popular Black Friday websites listed below.

For every big ticket item you plan on taking home, you might want to consider having a backup plan. What if Best Buy sells out of that 40-inch Sony Bravia HDTV? If you find the same product at another retailer, write that info down to so you can give them a visit in this situation. This will save you from having to waste time and return home to lookup other retailers.

If you find a crazy deal, such as a 2GB SD memory card for 10, search the fine print of the Black Friday advertisements for purchase limits. Most likely it will be 1 per person, but sometimes it will be 2 or 3. Knowing this ahead of time will help you clear out the store all the faster. If the purchase limit is 1 per person you should consider dragging along family or friends that aren't interested in what you're buying. That way you can keep everything for yourself and they won't have any second thoughts.

Check the retailer's website before you go. Many retailers' websites drop the shipping charges on Black Friday, so if you can wait a bit you can get the same item online at the Black Friday price. If you're lucky enough, your store might even offer in-store pickup for items purchased online.

Also, I remember last year a few stores provided online coupons for use when printed out and presented in-store. In addition, many store websites put Black Friday prices into effect at midnight - well before the stores open for the day. Buying online at that time can ensure your items of choice are in stock.

Find the retailer's return policy. The return policy of some stores allows you to purchase an item the day before Black Friday, come back on Black Friday, receipt in hand, and ask them to pay you the price difference. However, more and more stores are catching onto this, so it's best not to rely on this strategy.

Tips

If there are several of what you want in stock, never get the one in the front. During hectic shopping days best exemplified by Black Friday, shoppers often have no regrets about opening a box a little bit to see what's inside. In general though, boxes in the front are exposed to harsh conditions and often fall off the rack. That last thing you want to do is end up purchasing a damaged item and wait in a horrendous return line the next day.

Hide it. Okay, this is kinda sketchy and definitely not for those with any morals. Go to the store sometime before Black Friday, find what you want and hide it, hide it well - really really well. For example, if you're at Best Buy and want to get a memory stick, hiding it inside one of the washing machines or refrigerators on display is a sneaky and nearly flawless tactic.

Just because it's cheap doesn't mean it's worth your money. Sometimes it is wiser to pay more for a higher quality item. Don't throw all your reasoning abilities out of the window when your jaw drops after viewing the price. Look it up on ConsumerReports, Epinions or the reviews on Amazon and Newegg.

If you plan on buying an expensive item, such as a big screen television, you could actually save a percentage of your purchase price by signing up for that retailer's credit card. Retailers often offer 10% off your purchases when you sign up for their credit card. However, keep in mind that this is very risky if you don't immediately pay it off and cut up the card.

Take advantage of stores that offer price matching. Let's say Best Buy has a digital camera for 299 and that Circuit City has that exact same camera for 340. Basic economics reasoning demonstrates that every consumer that has a demand for that digital camera will head to Best Buy where it is cheaper. Assuming Circuit City will price match anything, just head over there with a Best Buy advertisement in hand and ask them to do a price match. You get the camera you want at the lower price without the risk of it being out of stock.

One last thing - carefully open your items and don't lose your receipts! You will probably have to return something.

Like it? Tweet it.

"How To: Make the Most of Black Friday" by @Stammy

Get new articles via email