I decided to compile the 5 Handy Tips and the 4 Bonus Tips I’d posted from the last 2 years into one handy column. And it starts … Right Now!
Going out early on Black Friday? A little forethought and planning can help make your day more successful and less stressful. Here’s some tips that have turned my Black Friday shopping experience from nightmare to pleasure.
1) Time Is Money – Remember that your time is valuable. If you have to stand on line for 5 hours to save $40, you’re not really ahead of the game. Even if your time is worth only $10 an hour (mine is worth considerably more to me), you’re losing money every moment you stand on line. Unless, of course, you like standing on line. A bargain that makes you wait for hours in line isn’t really a bargain, is it?
2) There Are Bargains All Day – Yes, those “doorbusters” may look attractive, but maybe not so much after you figure out what your time is worth. Once you’ve realized that you’re not actually saving money on that $40-off TV, you’ve freed yourself from the early morning rush. Most stores have great bargains throughout the weekend — and all month long, for that matter.
3) Cut the Stress by Going Later – And once you’ve thought about #1 & 2 above, you’ve probably realized that you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to get the good stuff. Sleeping in and avoiding the crowds will cut down your stress level considerably. I usually try to arrive after the big morning rush, and I generally have a pleasant shopping experience. I also get plenty of good gifts at great prices.
4) Plan Your Shopping – Pick up the Thanksgiving Day newspaper and go through the ads of the stores and/or item types that you’re interested in. This allows you to target the items you really want, as well as going for the best price. You’ll often find that 2 or more stores are offering the same items at very similar prices. Make a list, and remember #1 above. Breezing through the line in less-popular Store B is worth a lot more than standing in line to save a buck at trendy Store A. Make a list to help you keep track of where you’re going, what you’re looking for, and the comparative costs.
5) Be Flexible – Nobody’s life depends on getting just that “one special gift” at that “one special price.” If you have relationships like that with your gift-getters, you should re-think those relationships. Instead, try to think of broad categories that your recipients might like — not this exact thing, but something in the general area of this thing. Being flexible will reduce your cutthroat-shopping attitude, and that will cut down on your stress. You’ll also find the joy in finding a surprising, unexpected gift for someone, and your recipient will find the joy of receiving something they may not even have known existed.
Bonus Tip 1: Shop At Your Leisure During the Rest of the Year. Pretty much everybody has some closet space they can set aside for gifts. If you see something you’d like to give as a gift earlier in the year, go for it. A lot of times you can find bargains that are just as good during the 364 days that aren’t Black Friday. There’s almost nothing better on Black Friday than knowing you’ve already got half your shopping done.
Bonus Tip 2 – Make a list. Yeah, it seems old fashioned, but not if you use Google Docs or some other spreadsheet-type program. I use this to list the family & friends I buy for every year (and sometimes others, too). I used to keep paper lists, but I would lose them from year to year — and part of the point of list keeping is to keep track of what you’ve given and not give that same present again. So, now my list is stored in the cloud.
Bonus Tip 3 – Check your inventory. When you’re buying all year long, you tend to forget what you’ve accumulated. So, before you go out this year, check what you’ve got at hand. Much to my delight, I discovered I had more than 50% of my shopping already done.
Bonus Tip 4 – Check the sale hours. Since you’re not going at the crack of dawn, you should find out when the deals that you’re angling for end. Many stores run certain sales all day or even all weekend. Some, though, have cut-offs during the day. This year, I got caught in a cut-off at the cash register, where all my $4 videos suddenly went up to $10. I literally missed the sale by 2 minutes — after spending the 15 previous minutes browsing “for fun.” Thing is, I knew when that store’s specials ended from last year. I just managed to forget it until 2 minutes too late. Good thing the things I missed getting were “spare” presents I was planning to stockpile, not something vital.
That’s the complied list. I hope it helps reduce your stress levels! Happy Shopping & Happy Holidays!