The holiday season is officially upon us, folks. Thanksgiving is next week and millions are gearing up to not only stuff their faces with turkey and pumpkin pie, but also to shop until they drop on Black Friday. I won’t be venturing out on Black Friday, mostly because I have a date with my sofa and Max, and we plan to slip into another food coma. My Thanksgiving eating is a serious, two-day love affair, and no sale can compete with it! But I know many consider Black Friday a family tradition that they look forward to every year. Done right, it can be an epic adventure with victorious tales of finding good parking and short checkout lines and the happiest of endings with money saved and great gifts purchased. I’ve put together a few guidelines and some tools and apps to help you win on Black Friday.
Don’t Believe the Hype: Black Friday is NOT Bad
Looking around, I noticed a far amount of bashing on Black Friday. How it signals the worst of consumerism and blah, blah, blah. Listen, that’s perfectly fine if that’s your truth but it’s not mine or even a universal one. Black Friday is NOT evil incarnate. You are not bad or wrong or stupid for enjoying it. I do recognize that some people spend more than they can afford and make poor choices, which we shouldn’t ignore, but they don’t deserve our condescension or mocking. Glass houses, people. We have ALL made mistakes. I want people to be smart and mindful shoppers on Black Friday and I won’t help them do so by insulting them. What I can do is lead by example and share my knowledge to help them make better choices.
3 Rules to Black Friday Shopping Success
Retailers are very, very smart. They know our adrenaline is flowing with shoppers feeling competitive or worried about missing out, and they take advantage of our emotions to get us to buy, buy, buy. Here are few rules to follow to help you avoid getting carried away and spending more than you planned.
Have a Black Friday Budget (and Holiday Budget too)
I used to make a huge mistake with my holiday budget. I’d pick out what I wanted to buy everyone on my guest list, then add up the total to find out what my gift budget was. 🙂 The better method has you determining your budget first, then deciding how much of it will be spent on gifts and finally breaking it down to the individual level. This is what I do now and recommend you do the same. Before you leave home, know how much money you have budgeted to spend on Black Friday and commit to not spending a penny more.
Know What You Will Buy Before You Leave Home
These days you can find Black Friday ads online weeks in advance, giving you plenty of time to make your list and check it twice. Do not go unprepared because Black Friday is not for novices. The smart shopper knows what to buy and what to avoid because it will be cheaper later in the season. They don’t go without a plan because they know they will end buying things on impulse.
Use Cash and Leave the Credit/Debit Cards at Home
The first two rules give you a solid foundation to make good choices and not overspend, but the absolute best way to ensure that you stay on track is to leave the credit cards at home and make Black Friday a cash only shopping day. You have your list, so you know how much money you need. By eliminating your ability to spend more than planned via your credit card, you’ve set yourself up to succeed. And don’t use the threat of an emergency as an excuse to bring your credit card. Virtually everyone has a cell phone, so you can call someone if your car breaks down and you need them to come pick you up or pay the nice person who tows your car. 🙂
Bonus Tip: I understand those who travel outside of their hometown may feel more uncomfortable not having a credit card available for emergencies. I suggest only bringing one credit card and putting it in a sealed envelope with this written on the outside, “Why are you opening me now?” If the answer isn’t “I’m done shopping and back home”, please think long and hard about why you’re pulling out your credit card.
Black Friday Resources for the Smart Shopper
Now that you have the basic ground rules down, let’s take a look at some helpful resources and apps that can increase your savings and stretch your hard-earned dollars.
Finding Black Friday Ads Online
Undoubtedly, your mailbox and inbox have been filled with lots of flyers promoting Black Friday. It can be hard to keep track of everything. Fortunately, you can find most ads online housed in one place, instead of having to go site-to-site. I like BlackFriday.com, TheBlackFriday.com and The Penny Hoarder for finding deals and shopping tips.
TGI BLack Friday App
This is a jam packed app with features every Black Friday shopper wants, including:
- Black Friday ads for all major retail stores, with frequent updates.
- A personal shopping list to check off items as you purchase them.
- Price comparison to confirm you are getting the lowest price.
- Notification of items that may be available before Black Friday.
Apps to Help You Save Money on Black Friday
Here are some apps to download before you head out on Black Friday. Even better, these apps are not exclusive to Black Friday and can be used year-round to help save money too.
ShopSavvy can help make sure you’re getting the lowest price possible. Simply scan the product’s barcode with your phone’s camera, and it will instantly compare the price against thousands of retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar stores.
I love ShopKick because you don’t even have to make a purchase to earn rewards. Major score in my book! You earn “kicks” for just walking into participating stores, like Target and Best Buy, which can be redeemed for gift cards.
SnipSnap digitizes all your coupons, so they are always at your fingertips without having to sort, file or organize paper coupons, which is extra nice on Black Friday. It’s already crazy enough! You can also connect with other users via a community stream to share and/or grab coupons for yourself.
Retail Me Not
It’s a well-known powerhouse for a reason. Retail Me Not makes it super easy to find discounts while you’re standing in line at your favorite store. All you have to do is find a coupon, show the code on your phone to cashier and score some savings. Easy peasy.
If Target is a place you regularly shop, then Target Cartwheel is absolute must-have for Black Friday and beyond. As an extra perk, you can reuse offers and even combine them with other coupons and your REDcard discount to really maximize savings.
Walmart Savings Catcher
Walmart Savings Catcher helps ensure that you get the lowest price available on items you purchase. You simply scan in your receipt, and if there is an advertised lower price in your area, Walmart gives you an e-card with the difference. Another great app for both Black Friday and year-round.
For those of you who prefer to shop online (whether Black Friday, Cyber Monday or anytime), then you need to sign-up for SwagBucks. You earn points for shopping online that can be redeemed for gift cards. So if you’re already planning on buying something online, you might as well earn some points towards a gift card as well.
Whew. This is a lot of information! Take your time to read through it and add it to your arsenal so you can make Black Friday a shopping success. You can absolutely make smart, mindful choices if you use these resources and apps to help build your Black Friday game plan. Good luck!
For those of you still planning your Thanksgiving menu and in need of some inspiration, check out my 2017 Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up for some delicious recipes that will impress your guests this holiday season.
Will be you shopping on Black Friday? What are your favorite apps to save money? Share them in the comments below!