How to survive the mall on Black Friday

Here we are: the biggest shopping day of the year. And while now is certainly a prime opportunity to stock up on hot deals and cross off most of your holiday gift getting in one fell swoop, trying to navigate a super-crowded mall packed with overzealous shoppers isn't for the faint of heart. Here, ten guidelines to get you through the day without having a meltdown, while saving you as much time and money as possible in the process. Happy Shopping!

Make A List. It's easy to get distracted in the thick of the sale chaos. To help stay on course, before you hit the mall, comb newspapers, coupon books, and the websites of the stores you know you want to hit up and make a list of the sale items you'd want to track down. Pay attention to the timelines too: some sales only last a couple hours, while some last for a few days.

Get Your Priorities Straight. If what you really want is a new flatscreen for your family, make sure to start there come shopping day. Keeping track of what's really important to you will keep you from getting sidetracked by the random bargain bins that tempt you as you're cruising the aisles.

Set A Budget. Put a ceiling on how much you're willing and able to spend, which will help steer you away from miscellaneous things you think could be useful "someday" and other such impulse buys.

Leave The Kids At Home. It's going to be a long day: trying to find parking, fighting off the crowds, combing through overstuffed clothing racks-not exactly child's play. If you can, spare little ones and yourself the headache of trying to drag them to the mall and find a family member who can keep them occupied for a few hours. That said, if you can find the right, patient, motivated shopping companion, bring her/him-this can be very helpful for dividing and conquering inside stores.

Get The Lay Of The Land. Take a minute to log onto the mall's website to scope out a map/directory. The less time you spend fumbling around looking for the shops you want to target, the better.

Figure Out Transportation. Needless to say finding a parking spot at the mall on this particular day might be atrocious, not to mention a huge time suck, so if you can, find someone else to drop you off or consider taking public transportation. If neither is an option, consult a map of the mall in advance and try and come up with a parking plan beforehand.

Travel Light. Choose your clothing strategically. A cross-body handbag is a good thing for freeing up your hands. At the very least, make sure your handbag is only carting your essentials-you want to stay as mobile as possible. If you're shopping for clothes, make sure the outfit you're wearing is easy to take on and off. Layering is also helpful, both so you don't overheat while navigating the crowds, and so you can try things on without having to wait in line for a dressing room.

Stock Provisions. Waiting in line for a latte, or at the food court at lunch, is only going to eat up precious bargain hunting time. Fuel up on caffeine before you leave the house, and slip a couple filling, easily portable, snacks (a baggie of nuts, granola bars, dried fruit) in your purse in case you get hungry. Avoid items that are laden with sugar, which leave you with a fleeting rush (and inevitable energy crash).

BYOB. Taking your own shopping bags-ideally the lightweight, fold-up reusable kind you might already be using at the grocery store. They're stronger and less bulky than the paper ones they dispense at stores, making it easier to cart away your bounty.

Manage Your Expectations. It helps to mentally prepare yourself before you get to the mall. There are bound to be pushy people, frustratingly long lines, disorganized inventories and other such irritations, but if you kick off the day with those things in mind, you probably won't be disappointed. Stay calm-and remember, at the end of the day, it's just shopping after all!

Related: How to save money on big ticket electronics; How to shop online to find the best deals


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