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Are you ready for black friday?

By Priya Raman on 24 November 2010 | Topics - Personal Finance

As we all know the day after Thanksgiving is the year’s biggest shopping day of the whole year. We scour through the newspapers, grab store flyers, and hunt across the internet for the big deal. This year  most stores have added a new channel – they are publishing their best deals only to their Facebook fans. So what are some of the best strategies to get the best deals. Let me share some of my quick strategies.

  • Make a list and check it twice. This a very important step. By Tuesday evening, you should have a list of things that you absolutely need. Have another list of nice to have’s – if the deal is good. Also have a price marked next to each – don’t assume that everything at the store is at a discount. You should have some idea of the regular price (oxymoron alert?) of items – so that when you find the deal you know it. This is one of the best times for buying the toys, the other being after Christmas. I do make the trip on Friday ( or Saturday) after Thanksgiving to buy clothes – just the basics, jeans, shirts, sweaters. If I find a good deal I will buy a few extras for the kids – one size bigger for the next year.
  • Plot your way. Know which shops you want to go first.Know when it opens. Most shops will publish their opening times. But the early bird deals are not released till Thursday. This year a lot of retailers are giving their Facebook fans a look into the 2-day deals. For all you Facebook aficionados this is the time to make all that time on Facebook pay. The other avenue is to get on the retailers e-mail list or check their websites. Target, Macys, JCPenney all have their  sale list on their websites.
  • Plan Ahead. Now if you are one of those who needs to have the latest and the best gadgets –  then plan ahead. Best Buy, Sears and Wal-mart usually have great deals. But how about those early bird deals? If you are the first 50, or the first 20 to enter the store etc. Well I assume you know that to get in on these deals you have to literally camp out in front of the store at least a day in advance. If you like the thrill of getting the deal and don’t mind the hussle for a couple of days, by all means go ahead and do that. Tip: Don’t think about just the upcoming Christmas season. Think about what you need for the whole year that follows. If you plan and budget you can score good deals that will stand you for the whole year. For example, you can be prepared with toys and presents for all the birthday parties that your kids will attend.
  • Once in a while deals: While we focus on buying regular stuff, this is also a good time for big ticket items. Appliances, HDTV, Entertainment devices – lookout for price drops or promotions. This year for example, if you are in the market for a washer and dryer (front-loading), one of the best deals out there is by Sears – both for 599. That is a good deal considering that the Kenmore brand is usually higher priced.
  • Shop early – like a day early. If you are not a morning person and don’t dig the crowd – then do what I do. I start the shopping early – on Thursday. For the past couple of years, I have noticed a trend – more retailers are having some of their deals available online a day earlier – on Thanksgiving Day. So if you want to avoid the Friday morning dash, check out your favorite retailer online Thursday. Most offer free shipping. If you happen to have a discount coupon for them even better.
  • Or shop late. On Black-friday I go to the mall around lunch time – after 11 a.m. Everyones got to eat – and I have seen that the stores are little easier to get into when the morning birds go to eat or get home to hit the bed. Of course, the stores are a little in disarray after the morning rush and maybe, just maybe I may not get the best deals, atleast I got a good night’s sleep !
  • Or shop really really late. If you have missed the 2 days weekend sale or you are really a savvy shopper, Cyber-Monday is another day to catch the deals. There are tons of retailers, other than the pioneer Amazon who will offer incredible deals online.

However something to keep in mind – it is easy to lose control and go on a buying spree. Buy only things that you really need. It also a good teaching opportunity for your kids. Encourage them to think of those who don’t have as much. Teach them what the holidays are really about – family and friends.

And don’t forget the deal that gets missed out by most. Identify the charity, hospital or school that is dear to you and write a check. That deal keeps on giving – the happiness you cannot buy at a retailer.

About the Author Priya is a working mom of two. Besides her steady load of work at home taking care of her kids, she finds time to work for her husband's company, help her childrens' school and conduct summer camps. She created the site Little Respite to share some of her ideas/thoughts with other fellow parents, friends.