Black Friday shopping tips

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Black Friday. Do you know it? Do you love it? Maybe not as much as I do. I look forward to this day all year. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, I peel myself out of bed around 4am, and head off to find those bargains! Here’s how I make the most of the day:

1. Check out BlackFridayAds.com a few days ahead of time. That way you’ll have a little more time to plan your approach, think about the people you need to buy for, and then only buy what you need. Black Friday is only a frugal event if you plan carefully, stick within your budget, and don’t get carried away.

2. Pay close attention to which stores open first, and plan where you’ll go first, second and third. Figure driving time and map out the most efficient route.

3. Write out a list for every store, with the highest priority items at the top of the list. Include name brands and even a photo of items (cut apart your ads and tape pictures to your lists.) This makes it much easier to spot items on shelves.

4. Plan to bring another adult or teen with you and arm both people with a cell phone.  Communication is essential when you’re separated in the midst of a crowd of people.

5. Bring a couple of big mesh bags. Without a cart, you’ll be able to move more quickly through the stores–sometimes there are huge traffic jams, and you will be just standing still if you’re trying to maneuver a cart. I usually leave my coat in the car, and stick my credit card/checkbook/ID in my FRONT jeans pocket so I don’t have to carry a purse.

6. Divide the list for each store into two parts– you and your shopping partner can each shop and then meet at the checkout. Have one person just grab a few things, then go stand in the checkout line while the other person finishes shopping. If you can hit the checkout line within 15 minutes of the store’s opening time, the line won’t be too long yet.

7. If your partner gets to the head of the line before you get done shopping, he/she should call you and just let the next person in the checkout line check out first. Whatever happens, your partner shouldn’t step out of the line– just wait at the front, letting people by, until the partner arrives.

I know lots of people just prefer to avoid the chaos and sleep in that morning. But shopping the day after Thanksgiving helps my stretch my Christmas dollars, which is really important with 10 kids to shop for. I wouldn’t want to shop like that every day. But once a year is fun. I love working out an efficient plan and seeing just how much I can get for my money. It’s also fun to sneak the loot in the house when I finally get home around 11 am. If I’m really energetic, I’ll even get a gift or two wrapped before I collapse for a nap in the early afternoon.

(This article reposted from a previous year.)

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More tips

My 2007 Black Friday shopping trip

Walmart 2008 Black Friday Deals

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Sweet, sweet deal on cereal at Albertson’s

For those of you who live near an Albertson’s, this week is a great week to stock up on cereal. If you have a preferred customer card, you can buy 10 boxes of General Mills cereal for $10. If you have coupons, the deal gets even sweeter. I happened to have a fistful of coupons and today I bought TWENTY boxes of cereal for– get this– $11.50. Awesome. Talk about having fun shopping– that was definitely it.

Oh, and for the curious, we eat cereal two mornings a week (about two boxes per meal) which means that the cereal I bought today will last about 5 weeks.