If you’re one of the roughly 90 million Americans who will be hitting the stores on Black Friday, you’ll want to make your shopping experience go as smoothly as possible. Crazy crowds and the risk of spending yourself into bankruptcy can make Black Friday feel overwhelming, but there’s no reason your quest for holiday bargains has to be a financial or psychological disaster.
With some forethought and planning, you can score the deals you’re looking for without breaking the bank or sacrificing your sanity. Here are five tips for prioritizing your Black Friday shopping that can make the big shopping day much more enjoyable and affordable.
Have a clear strategy
For maximum efficiency, do some research and determine well in advance what items you want to buy, where you plan to buy them, how much you’re willing to pay for each item and how much you can spend overall. Make a Black Friday shopping list and budget, map out a sensible travel route beforehand and get started as early as possible. The earlier in the day you shop, the more likely you’ll be to get the bargains you want.
Buy big-ticket items first
Big-ticket items are things like TVs, appliances, exercise equipment, electronics and other more expensive products people purchase less frequently because they last a long time. If they’re on your shopping list, go for big-ticket items first because retailers often limit the number they’ll sell at Black Friday prices.
Limit the number of stores you visit
The more places you go, the more likely you’ll be to make impulse purchases and break your budget. Indeed, research has shown that most (76%) purchasing decisions are made at the store, often because shoppers can be distracted from their game plan by attractive store displays and other marketing ploys. Be aware of this risk going into Black Friday so you can maintain your resolve and stick to your shopping game plan.
Pay with cash
Research has also shown consumers are more prone to impulse buying and tend to buy more items altogether when they shop with debit or credit cards. That makes sense since cards make spending so much easier, especially credit because you can run up a big balance and then make the minimum payment (often at high interest). So consider leaving all your plastic at home on Black Friday and go exclusively with cash, carrying only the amount you intend to spend. When the money runs out, head home.
Finally, be prepared to go it alone, if necessary. Yes, shopping by yourself can be a drag, especially if you prefer to have someone there to strategize with or just for moral support. But your best shopping buddy could end up being a bad influence if he or she tends to be too loose with money or is always ready to front you some extra cash that you’ll just have to pay back later. If you absolutely cannot shop alone, try to bring someone you know is – or at least wants to be – as organized and budget-conscious as you plan to be on Black Friday.
Shopping photo via Flickr.