10 Ways to Make the Most of Black Friday

By , dealnews contributor

While every day is like Black Friday here at dealnews, when the real thing comes around, we get extra bargain-happy. There's nothing more exhilarating than a great deal, nabbing a doorbuster, and sharing these stories of savings with friends. However, Black Friday may seem stressful to some shoppers. So to make the most of the upcoming holiday, we suggest you arm yourself with these 10 tips that will help you hit the ground saving and keep your spirits light, knowing you're getting great deals.

Check Out the Leaked Ads

The leaked Black Friday ads are beginning to pour in! We've analyzed the deals from Walmart, Harbor Freight Tools, Best Buy, and RadioShack to name a few. Be sure to study up on the all the leaked Black Friday ads that have come in so far, and maybe do some price-checking before the big day.

Make a List, and Check It Twice

For the bargain hunter, this time of year can be particularly difficult, what with all the sales! Sometimes holiday deals and discounts can be overwhelmingly good and spur impulse buying, which later turns in to remorse. But you can avoid all of this by simply making a clear-cut list of what to buy. If you're stumped on what to gift your Secret Santa, or to wrap up for the man who has everything, be sure to peruse our updated Gift Guide.

Being First in Line Has Its Benefits

Now that Black Friday sales start well before, well, Black Friday, it takes a special kind of shopper to happily brave the Black Friday camp-out in hopes of snapping up a limited quantity doorbuster deal. Because retail stores will have limited stock of Black Friday doorbusters, if you're after one, you'll want to be near the front of the line. (That said, if you're after one of three doorbusters at Walmart, being in line at all from 10 pm to 11 pm guarantees you'll get it — eventually, at least.) But if you're not interested in those big-kahuna items, we're going to once again stress the joys and virtues of shopping online.

Shop Online While Standing in Line

Last year, we found that 70% of in-store Black Friday deals can be found online for the same or better prices. We therefore advocate for Black Friday shopping via your couch. However, for those few deals that will drag you out of bed at 4 am, chances are you'll still need to arrive early and be prepared to stand in a long checkout line. Why not ring up some bargains in the meantime? Just open the dealnews Black Friday app and browse our around-the-clock updated list of the lowest priced consumer goods around.

The Early eShopper Gets the Deal

Speaking of online deals, it pays to shop early even if you're at home in your PJs. We know this from experience: On Black Friday 2010, we posted 277 deals before 10 am ET (compared to about 80 or 90 on an average shopping day), of which 10% of those deals expired before 10 am. By noon, 13% of our deals posted on Black Friday had already expired. Has it gotten more competitive since then? You bet, and this year, Thanksgiving will be equally important. So we're suggesting that you start as early as you can on these days. Is 12:01 am out of the question? No, but as long as you get going well before 10 am ET, you'll be set to snag some choice deals.

Psssst: Secret Deals Online

Want to score a deal no one knows about? On Thanksgivings past, retailers like Best Buy have advertised additional Black Friday deals online that weren't in their circulars. Despite the best Black Friday planning, these "secret" deals are last-minute reasons to plan for an early start on Black Friday; you'll want to know what to look for and where to secure an exclusive deal. And speaking of early, nowadays a number of merchants are offering sneak peaks to their Black Friday ads in exchange for customer loyalty, i.e. those who sign up for email alerts, "Like" a Facebook page, or follow the store on Twitter. Get all your ducks in a row, and you might even be able to snag Black Friday deals well before the turkey goes in to the oven!

Consider Other Colors

Here's a tip for making the most of your allotted spending: If you're not particular about the color of a jacket, luggage set, or your electronics, you could save even more money this season. Oftentimes less mainstream colorways see stronger discounts than the sleek and common colors. When comparison shopping online, keep in mind that sometimes the model number integrates a product's color information — digital cameras and camcorders frequently do this. Simplify the model number to broaden your search, and you might find a blue camera for less than the standard black or silver model you originally considered.

Look for Bundle Offers

Whether you're looking for a new tablet or a video game console, we expect to see a number of Black Friday bundle promotions that, in some cases, will offer a better value over another deal that's priced lower. For example, one store might offer a slight price cut on a popular tablet, but if a second store charges retail price and bundles it with a $100 gift card, the latter may be a far better deal. This may also apply to items that are bundled with important accessories, like a TV with a Blu-ray player or a game console with premium controllers. Just remember to price-check the components of a bundle to see if it'd be wiser to buy separately.

Don't Cut Corners on Coupons

You're not alone: No one likes to pay for shipping! Before you hit the virtual checkout line this Black Friday, you'll want to check dealcoupons for any number of extra discounts available. Or, you can download the dealnews browser extension, which upon visiting a merchant's online store, informs you if there's a coupon available.

Set Up eMail Alerts for Your Wish List

While many folks try and do all of their holiday shopping exclusively on Black Friday, there are a few items that see better prices in December and even January. We're talking about name-brand HDTVs, toys, calendars, and jewelry for starters. But just because something isn't on sale on Black Friday doesn't mean you can't find it for an awesomely low price! Just set up an e-mail alert for your wish list gifts, and let the deals come to you!

A final word of advice: We're not kidding when we say it takes athletic discipline to make it through Black Friday. While we always encourage you to take your bargains seriously, we also urge you to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, get plenty of rest before and after, and don't create a financial maelstrom that will have you in deep credit card debt long after the holidays are over. With a little planning and the right spirit, your Black Friday 2012 can be filled with lots of green, and an ample helping of bargain-based joy.

Front page photo credit: Picstopin
Photo credit: Reuters

Lou Carlozo is a dealnews contributing writer. He covers personal finance for Reuters Wealth. Prior to that he was the managing editor of WalletPop.com, and a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune.

Follow @dealnews on Twitter for the latest roundups, price trend info, and stories. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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What is the date of Black Friday again?