Black Friday Survival Guide

This post contains affiliate links. Also, this post as been updated for 2015.
Black Friday–one of my favorite days of the year!  I have been a dedicated Black Friday shopper since undergrad. I started going with my grandparents and was hooked.  I even bought a car on Black Friday once (true story. RIP white Ford Escape).  You all know I love a good deal, and it’s definitely a day to get them.  I always end up a little tired but in reasonably good spirits. Oh, and I kill it.  I usually get every deal I go after. How?  Let me show you the way.

1. Plan your shopping list and set a budget.
It’s easy to get caught up in Black Friday excitement and buy things that you later wish you wouldn’t have.  Make it easy for yourself by writing up a shopping list that details what you need to buy/who you need to buy for, and try to stick to the list.  Also, determine how much you’re willing to spend before you start shopping and stick to it!

2. Scout out the deals in advance.
Start now.  Google the name of the stores you like with “Black Friday 201__” (<– change the year accordingly).  Most stores have their deals floating around out there.  If you can’t find the ad for this year, search for last year’s ad.  Many stores have similar deals each year, like Victoria’s Secret.  You know you can usually count on BOGO 50% off on bras, deals on Pink loungewear, and a free bag with goodies if you buy a certain amount of stuff.  Make notes on your shopping list about where you can find what deals.

Don’t forget to check search Coupon Sherpa, even if you’re shopping in-store, to see if there are any coupons out there that can provide you with extra savings!!!

3. Know what deals are wolves in sheep clothing.  
Seriously.  Not everything on Black Friday is the best deal you can get this holiday season.  As soon as you make your shopping list and know what you need, start looking for those items now and compare against advertised Black Friday prices.  Some retailers are having excellent sales in the lead-up to Black Friday, while others are matching select Black Friday prices from competitors.

4. Strategize like you’re a 5-star general. . .of shopping.
Don’t leave home without a plan.  If you’re going shopping in store, know what stores you’re going to, in what order you’re going to them, and what you need from where.   Also, if it’s a big retailer like Walmart, check to see if they have a map of their store layout for Black Friday online.   If you’re shopping online, make a list of the websites you what to hit up and what time their deals go live. This usually ranges anywhere from midnight to 3 a.m. EDT.  The key to getting in and getting out is to plan, plan, plan!  If a store already has long lines and you’re with a friend, have you friend go ahead and get a place in line while you shop.  Then, you be the placeholder in line and let your friend shop!

5. Shop online.
Why fight the crowds in-store?  I usually do all of my shopping online except for one or two stores because the deals are usually the same in store.  For big retailers, they usually list in their ads if something is only available in store.  And while some stores do offer a slightly better discount if you shop in store, is it worth it by the time you pay for gas and go fight the crowd?  Probably not.

Even if you’re bound and determined to get out in the crowds for the experience, shop as much as you can online, including while you’re standing in long check-out lines.  That way you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Black Friday Haul from B&BW 2012.  Spent $83.95.  Saved $389.30.

Here’s a list of the stores I always hit up:

  • Bath & Body Works–I shop in-store because you can coupon stack!  There’s a B&BWs close to my hometown that usually doesn’t even have a line when it opens, so I always go there.  I usually pick up their VIP bag and use its contents as Christmas gifts.
  • JCP–I shop online.  
  • Walmart–I only shop in-store if there’s an in-store special I have to have.  Otherwise, I order online and avoid that mess.
  • Kohl’s–I shop online, because they usually have excellent deals right before Black Friday.  
  • Victoria’s Secret–I shop online.  Usually, you can order later on Thanksgiving day and get their special bag early.  
  • Sephora–I shop online.  They always have some excellent beauty items for $10!!!
  • Target–I shop online.  Redcard for the win!
  • Amazon–Online, of course.
  • Old Navy–Online only.  Have you seen an Old Navy store on Black Friday?
Check out my updated list for Black Friday 2015 here.
And here’s a few special tips if you do decide to online shop:
  • Know what time deals go live on the websites.
  • Create accounts and log-in beforehand, to make checkout smooth and decrease the risk of something selling out before you can get checked out.
  • USE EBATES (especially since they usually have increased cash back at certain retailers for Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales–check their site for details)! I use Ebates every time I shop online. It’s a legitimate website that gives you cash back for your purchases from some of my favorite stores, including most of the stores listed on my Top 10 Favorite Stores for Black Friday Deals! You even get some just for signing up!  You can join now by clicking here. They’ll even have special cash back deals around Black Friday and throughout the holiday shopping season. If you want to know more about Ebates first, then check out my in-depth post about why I use the website.  
PS–You can check out my friend Brittany’s tips for surviving Black Friday over at The Lady Lawyer!!!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Click here to go ahead and get started if you’re too excited to wait!
So what’s your Black Friday plans???  Do you have any tips I’ve missed?