Make the most of Black Friday this year.You're not seriously braving the Black Friday crowds without a plan, are you? Thousands of other sleep-starved shoppers will be clamoring for those three discounted TVs, so you'd better bring your "A" game. Before you bundle-up to bargain shop, here are some points to consider:
1. Deal or No Deal?: It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of Black Friday. Retailers build-up the anticipation in the hope you'll lose your penny-pinching inhibitions and spend big. However, the discounts aren't always as good as they seem. A 30-percent break off the retail price (who charges retail?) may still be more expensive than what another store offers every day. It pays to do your homework, and the internet makes this easier than ever.
2. Be Pragmatic: With almost every store clamoring for your business, you can't possibly reach them all in one morning. Aside from the deals, consider such common-sense concerns as distance, parking, and the number of items that will get crossed off your list at each stop. If more stores are clustered in one area of town, it might be a better idea to visit those retailers.
3. Field the Right Team: Grandma loves spending time with you, but she may not be up for an early morning at the mall. Ditto for the kids. You want to go shopping with family and friends who will enjoy, or at least appreciate, the experience. There's nothing worse than kicking off the holiday season with a Grinch at your side, so choose your companions wisely.
4. Don't Sweat the Mall Stuff: You're going to have to roll with the punches on Black Friday. Lines will be long, stores will run out of merchandise, and crowds may be less than hospitable. Have back-up destinations in mind. Being proactive will keep you focused, energized and in a more jolly spirit.
5. Pack a Snack:Just because you enjoyed the biggest dinner of the year mere hours ago doesn't mean you can neglect your appetite. Nobody wants to deal with the crisp weather and bustling crowds on an empty stomach. Energy-packed snacks can help you fuel-up as you leave in the morning, and are easy to store in a purse or bag. This is especially important if you're going to have young kids with you.
6. That's Entertainment: Time will pass much quicker - and kids will be much quieter - if there are activities available while they wait. Printable coloring pages, mazes or activity books are a good choice, as are simple games like "I Spy." It's the holidays, so try your best to keep things festive!
7. Watch Your Wallet: What's the point of great discounts if you go over budget? Set a spending limit and stick to it. When all is said and done, holiday memories are the best gifts you can give your family.
-By Gregory Sidor