Black Friday Survival Guide

Americans are counting down the hours until the shopping pandemonium begins. As always, there will be crowds, pushy people, and a few lunatics.

Only the ill prepared will suffer. The sophisticated and strategizing shoppers will save big-time.

Don’t forget  the legendary Urban Outfitters 2012 scare…

You may think you’re prepared, but before you hightail it out of the house at 2 am, take a look at our handy-dandy Black Friday survival guide, specifically designed for the thrifty and aggressive shopper.

Black Friday Survival Guide

Prepare for Battle
Skip the comfortable tennis shoes, Black Friday is a battle. What do you wear into battle? Combat boots. They’ll keep your feet toasty warm in cold temps and help you to withstand being trampled should a stampede occur.

Pack Nutritious Food
Speed is of the essence. It can be a long day, and getting in and out of stores as quickly as possible so you can move on to the next one is critical. Food courts have long lines and bad (salty, fatty, sleep-inducing) options, so keep an ice chest in the car with protein-rich snacks so you can keep it moving. Also bring a small carton of milk with you into the store. It’s high in calcium, and if some nut job uses pepper spray on the crowd, flushing your eyes with cold milk removes the sting.

Dress Tight and Right
Dressing in tight layers keeps you warm when you’re stuck in long lines outside. Once inside, if dressing room lines get too long  pull off a few layers and try on garments right there in the clothing aisle. Find a nearby mirror and you’re set. It may seem silly, but it beats buying an item untried and standing in the long return line two days later!

Divide and Conquer
There’s strength in numbers. A group can accomplish more than one person when trying to tackle multiple stores. Gather a group of your best buds, divide a list of who will cover what, and set a meeting time to exchange items later. Be sure to bring your checkbooks and don’t forget the receipts.

Map It Out
List all the stores you want to hit and try to map out where in the mall the stores are you want to hit. That way, when you get inside, you aren’t wandering aimlessly.

Keep the Kids at Home
They’ll be safer (and you’ll be saner) if they stay at home with the grandparents or a neighbor who prefers to shop online.

Measure Your Space
Before you shop, measure the capacity of your car or trunk. It’s embarrassing (and a total waste of time and money) to spend hours and hundreds of dollars buying a bunch of stuff you can’t fit into your car. Borrowing a friend’s car or even renting a truck are good ideas, especially if you’re contemplating buying discounted furniture.

Get Tech Savvy
Being on email lists, Facebook fan pages for retailers and checking on deal sites will offer clues on added bonuses and could provide access to special coupons or unadvertised deals.

Bring your lists, loyalty cards, and coupons. Load up your smartphone with coupon-offering apps like CouponSherpa or RetailMeNot, or apps for stores where you will shop. You’ll be able to check for last-minute deals while you’re in the field.

Skip the Main Event

There’s Cyber Monday, the Monday before Black Friday, where you can stay home and shop online.
Black  Monday (the first weekday after Black Friday) has started to surpass some of the deals offered early on. If stores don’t make the quota of sales they were anticipating for the weekend rush (or they overstock) Cyber Monday is their final push to bring shoppers back into stores. If you want to keep some wiggle room open in your budget and relax with the family on Friday, wait to see the offerings from Black Monday. It could become your new shopping ritual.

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