5 Essential Shopping Tips for Black Friday

Here are ways to help you save money and maintain your sanity

Black+Friday+shopping.+Photo+courtesy+of+Reuters.

Black Friday shopping. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

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The holidays are almost here, and that means Black Friday deals are right around the corner. In a way, you could say the sales have already started because there are many solid Amazon Black Friday deals already.

To help you survive the madness, I’ve pulled together the best tips and advice to ensure that you, my amazing readers, make the wisest buying decisions this holiday season.

MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE

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One of the worst things you can do in the weeks leading up to the holidays is purchase items blindly without a shopping list — this is true whether you shop online or in-store. Shopping without a specific list causes you to spend more and purchase items that you don’t need. By creating a shopping list with specific items, you avoid falling into the trap of buying unnecessary stuff.

To avoid buying that last-minute mop slippers (which no one wants), you can use certain websites or apps to create customized lists of gifts you intend to purchase. You can make lists for just about anyone, from your beer-chugging uncle from your mom’s side to your cousin who’s obsessed with slime. Anything is possible.

Alternatively, you can create your own wish list and share it publicly to ensure your friends and family get you the gift you want.

START SHOPPING EARLY

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Black Friday is no longer a one-day event. As a matter of fact, the best sales aren’t even released on Black Friday — they’re actually unveiled throughout Thanksgiving week. So, the earlier you start your shopping, the better your chances of finding the items you want on sale and in stock.

Last year, some of the best deals were released on the morning of Thanksgiving Day. Oftentimes, doorbuster Black Friday deals are designed to lure shoppers into stores in hopes of getting consumers to spend on other nonessentials. That’s not to say you should avoid Black Friday, but be aware that some of the best deals will start early on Thanksgiving week.

HACK THOSE REWARDS PROGRAMS

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These days, practically every credit card company features a rewards program. Chase Freedom Unlimited, for instance, offers a 1.5% cashback on all purchases, whereas Capital One Venture Rewards was named one of the best rewards cards for travelers by CNBC.

Find out which of your credit cards offers the best cashback program, and use that card over the holidays to earn the most money back when possible.

GET SOCIAL

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Want to get a heads up on the latest Black Friday offerings? One of the best ways to see what’s coming down the pipes is by following your favorite retailers on social media. Facebook and Twitter tend to be the most active platforms for retailers, but don’t be surprised if stores starts using Instagram to reveal secret coupon codes or early preview deals as well.

KNOW YOUR RETURN POLICIES

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Retailers tend to tweak their return policies during the holidays. While some may extend them, others might restrict them or increases their restocking fees. Doorbuster and “final sale” products tend to have the strictest policies, so be sure you’re comfortable with a store’s policy before you buy anything. Also, be sure to ask for and save your receipts because you never know when you may need them.