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Black Friday is almost upon us (gasp!) and with it comes the scramble of retailers trying to outdo one another. It makes perfect sense that you want to take advantage of these incredible deals but what’s the best way? The days of camping out 10 hours before Best Buy opens might be done, but there are still doorbusters EVERYWHERE. You need a plan, some tips and probably a latte or two to survive and capitalize on all that Black Friday offers.

We’re going to look at some Black Friday tips and tricks that will help you get the most of this season of deals. From apps that help keep you alerted on prices to how to organize your route, you’ll find our guide to Black Friday shopping will help you absolutely crush your wish list.

Figure out how early you want to start

Some stores don’t wait until the early morning of Black Friday to start shopping out deals – many start Thanksgiving evening. Whatever your thoughts on this, finding out when you want to shop is the first step in determining where you should go first.

Even if you don’t subscribe to any newspapers, it’s absolutely a must that you pick up the Sunday paper before Black Friday. This will be even more absurdly full of coupons and ads than normal, giving you tons of information about deals in your area. Some newspapers actually print a supplemental Black Friday guide, so keep an eye out for that as well. Because many companies will have early bird specials on Thursday evening that differ from their actual “Black Friday” deals, you can plan your route accordingly.

Get in touch with technology

There are many apps and websites out there that post up-to-date pricing or store details. These are critical because why would you want to waste your time sitting in a line for 3 hours to find out everything you want is out of stock? For instance, download the Amazon app so you can quickly scan the barcodes of products in stores to compare with the in-store price.

Then there are apps like Slick Deals which keep you up to date on shopping information. Piloted by over two million members, Slick Deals utilizes these people to get constant information on what’s sold out, when pricing changes and when big deals drop at all major retailers. You can even get alerts for when things on your wish list go on sale at various retailers.

Use tech to your advantage and you’ll be far faster and more response to the pace of Black Friday.

How to Make the Most of Black Friday

Grab your ads before you head out

Most stores on Black Friday will offer a “lowest price” or “price match” guarantee but they might require some proof. If you have an ad for a store across town that you don’t want to go to, you can save yourself some time by presenting it at a place that price matches.

Put in the research

If you want a new television, then make sure you find the best possible deal for the best possible television. Don’t just buy something because it’s cheap – Black Friday is a time when stores will put their back stock on sale to make room for new stuff. This doesn’t mean it’s bad, but if it’s on sale, it means it’s last year’s model.

The same goes for presents you’re buying. If someone wants a speaker system, find the best deal on a good speaker system rather than one which is just cheap. A little research goes a long way, especially since stores have been shortening the returns window on goods purchased on Black Friday each year.

Leave your kids at home, bring a friend and snacks

This is more of a quality-of-life tip but Black Friday can be a psychological duel and to go with your kids is the worst thing possible. Likewise, going alone is no fun and not having caffeine and snacks will take a bad mood and compound it as you fight for great prices.

Sign up for emails and plan your route that way

Some of the best deals you can get will come to you through email programs from stores. Signing up now will ensure you’re on those lists when the juiciest deals get dropped.

Here’s a pro tip: create a separate folder in your email to house all of the emails you sign up for so you can access them easily. Then, when Black Friday is over, you can easily go in and systematically unsubscribe from each of them.

Be mindful of your outfit

Another quality-of-life tip, but don’t wear red to Target or a blue polo to Best Buy or Lowes. Wear pajamas if you must but just make sure you don’t look like a store employee!

Go to specialty stores if you can

Places like Target and Walmart might have the most tantalizing deals, but they also sell so many different things that they will have far bigger crowds than other places. There’s a reason that most of the fight videos you find online come from the most popular places – 1,000s of shoppers means high tension and little reward.

Check online the week of Thanksgiving

A lot of places put their deeply discounted items on sale in their online shop before Black Friday. As we said above, Black Friday shopping discounts are often because stores are liquidating old stock, and it’s easier to do online. If you have an item you really want, check to see if the pricing is reflected online before you wade through crowds on Friday to find it.

Always plan and always have snacks

As with most things in life, having a solid plan will mean the difference between failure and success. Creating a route, checking prices ahead of time and buying what you can online are all ways to minimize your wasted time in lines or camping out. Bring a friend, leave your kids at home and have some caffeine and treats to keep you motivated, and never forget to use deal apps to get the best possible information as quickly as possible. Good luck this year!

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