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Black Friday Do’s and Don’ts

Black Friday:

Black / (blâk) / idiom, on the credit side of a ledger; prosperous.

Friday /ˈfrɑɪ·deɪ/ n. the sixth day of the week, following Thursday.

Black Friday n. (in the US) the day after Thanksgiving, often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, Christmas shopping, during which crowds of consumers are drawn to special offers by retailers. A common origin of the term Black Friday is that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss from January through November, and “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or “in the black”.

Naturally I found another, more fitting definition of Black Friday… “Any Friday on which a public disaster has occurred”  

The disaster that often occurs is that a lot of people go out on Black Friday and over-spend.  Caught up in the buying frenzy brought on by the constant bombardment of advertising (which seems to start earlier each year) millions of shoppers will flock to stores early Friday morning, the turkey still warm, in search of that super deal.

You can of course find great deals on Black Friday but where many people go wrong, getting caught up in the frenzy, is by not following the simple rules to shopping on Black Friday.

To keep from starting out your holiday shopping full of regret and avoid burying yourself in debt, you would be wise to follow a few of these Black Friday Do’s and Don’ts.

Strategy. This is probably the number one most important rule to follow when it comes to being a smart shopper on Black Friday, you must have a plan.

Store Circulars. Look through store circulars ahead of time.  You should be able to look through many circulars and pick your destinations based on the items you are looking for and the discounts available.  You might consider shopping at a mall instead of individual stores do to the simple fact that there is a wider selection and you don’t have to travel as much.

Make a List. The key to your attack on getting the best deals on the items you want is to know what items you want.  Not having a list is a sure-fire way to fall victim to impulse buys and destroy your budget, or worse yet rack up debt that otherwise could have been avoided.

Set a Budget. Once you have listed all of the items that you want to purchase, total up your list and make sure that amount fits into your spending budget.  Buy only the things that you are sure you really want or need.  Avoid making purchases just because they are a “great deal”.  Just because you can get that digital camera for half off doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

Limited Quantities.  Don’t fall into the trap of accepting a higher priced item because the item you want is sold out.  Retailers have a limited supply of those $200 60″ Flat Screen TVs for a reason… you can’t make money giving stuff away.  Stores know that once the “Super Deals” are gone, consumers will probably buy something else that is likely not such a great deal.  If the “Super Deal” that you wanted is gone, turn around and walk away.  Don’t fall victim to this tactic and buy a higher priced item just for the sake of buying something.

The Warranty.  Do your research on the items you plan on buying and find out what the particular warranty is.  Most electronics will have at least a one year manufacturer’s warranty and certain credit cards have a breakage protection provision.  Purchasing the warranty can make that great deal not so great.

Team Work. Don’t head out on Black Friday without a wing-man.  The 4 hour wait in line for that 75% off super widget can be much more tolerable if you have someone there with you.  One of you can hold your place in line for those snack and bathroom breaks, not to mention it’s nice to have someone to talk to while you wait.  Having a partner in crime can also be advantageous when it comes to searching out the items on your list.  The two of you can split up and find more items working as a team.

Safety First. Black Friday is a day shoppers anticipate all year, but the same is true for criminals.  It is important that you have a personal safety plan when you head out on your early morning spending spree.  McGruff the Crime Dog has these tips to keep you safe while you are on the shopping battleground:

  • Don’t buy more than you can carry.
  • At the register, don’t take out your credit card or cash before your items are totaled up and you are asked to pay.
  • Carry your purse close to you or your wallet in a front pocket to deter pick pockets.
  • Never leave your purse or packages unattended.
  • Take packages to your car if you get too many to carry, but never leave anything in plain view.  Put everything in the trunk or if possible take them home.
  • If you are shopping with your kids, make a plan in case you get separated.  Have a meeting place designated in advance where you will meet should you lose track of each other.
  • Park only in well-lit areas in designated parking lots.
  • Avoid large groups of people that appear to be loitering in parking lots.
  • Be cautious when stores’ doors open; avoid running or pushing.
  • If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, leave the area immediately.

If you have your mind set on being one of the millions that will fight the crowds this Black Friday, just don’t be in a hurry, accept the fact that there are going to a bunch of people out there doing the same thing you are.  You will be able to have a fun and safe time, taking advantage of all of those great deals, if you follow the above Black Friday Do’s and Don’ts.

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