The Black Friday Survival Guide

Despite our best efforts, we know not everybody can spend Black Friday on JoeShopping in the comfort of their home, dressed in a cozy robe and sipping a hot cup of coffee. Too many stores are having too many deals that are only in-store, and despite the hassle, they can be tough to ignore. So if you have to go out this Friday, here are a few tips that will help minimize the trauma.

Make a list and check it twice.

No, you don’t have to decide who’s naughty and nice — you have to figure out exactly what you want to buy on Black Friday. Exactly. Go through all the Black Friday ads, make a list of every deal you want to take advantage of, and note where they’re located. And keep your budget in mind — no need to shop for things you can’t afford.

Plan your attack.

If you get in your car on November 26th at 6 am without a plan, you might as well not go out at all. You’ve got to have a plan, and that’s more than just figuring out which stores open at what times (although you need to do that too). Questions to consider:

  • What store’s deals offer you the most savings?
  • Which deals are so big they probably won’t be repeated in the next few weeks?
  • Which stores might be so busy they might not be worth dealing with, especially if they’ll prevent you from visiting other stores? What’s the best route to take to visit all the stores you want to visit? How long should it take to actually do the shopping at each store?

Obviously, there’s no clear answer here — everybody will have their own unique schedule that will maximize their savings. Even if that means skipping the big ticket item that everyone else in the city will also be trying to get.

Be prepared.

Whether you’re the type who can get up at 4am or you’re better off just staying up all night, when it’s time to go, you need to be ready to go. Here’s an easy checklist:

List of items you’re shopping for and schedule printed out. All necessary coupons printed out, and all relevant flyers marked in case you have to argue with a cashier. The car has a full tank of gas. You have a full tank of gas — whether than means a pack of 5 Hour Energy drinks, a thermos of hot coffee, a PB&J, candy bars, whatever. You could very well be shopping from 4am to noon, depending on how much you need to get. Comfortable Shoes.

Stick to the plan.

We don’t mean just stick to the schedule, although it is important — if you’re stuck in a store where the check-out line reaches to the back of the store, it might be worth considering leaving so you can hit the other stores on your list. But the bigger worry is sticking to your list.

The whole point of a store’s Black Friday sale is to get you to buy as much as possible, and once you’re in a store, surrounded by hundreds of frenzied consumers and faced with endlessly unbelievable deals, it can be hard to resist not picking up a few more items. Don’t do it! If you didn’t need it when you made your list, you don’t need it now. Every single thing you pick up costs you time and, more importantly, costs you money.

If you guys have any tips you’d like to share or if you think we’ve forgotten anything, please let us know in the comments. And good luck on Friday!

And for you folks looking for Black Friday deals ONLINE (no need to leave the comfort of your warm, toasty house!), here are a slew of great online deals you can try to take advantage of.