In less than a week, families will be recovering from another great Thanksgiving meal while a large crowd of people will have congregated outside local stores for Black Friday - waiting to get their hands on this year's hottest toys and electronics.
In order to not be left out in the cold on this year's deals, follow these steps to effective Black Friday shopping:
l Plan early by scouring the web
The best advice for any Black Friday shopper is to begin planning early. There are websites dedicated to Black Friday deals and many get sneak peeks at all of the ads normally distributed on Thanksgiving.
The two best sites are BlackFriday.info and BlackFriday.com. Both websites start announcing special offers as early as September. Shoppers can sign up using their e-mail addresses for up-to-the-minute alerts on newly released ads.
The websites also offer corresponding apps with alerts that can be sent directly to any Smartphone. But the best features are scans of the actual ads that will be released in newspapers and the ability to create shopping lists and online guides for your Black Friday shopping mission.
l Create a list to budget your money and time
Whether you create a shopping list using the Black Friday websites or a handwritten note, you need to go in with a strategic plan.
It's easy to get distracted by all of the amazing deals and overspend or miss that special gift you really wanted to get. An effective list shows each store, when they open, what items you want to get and how much money you'll need.
Having a list is a good way to budget your time, as well. This year, some stores are opening at various times Thanksgiving night and others are sticking with the traditional 5 or 6 a.m. opening on Black Friday. Your list can help you map out not only what you need to get but where you need to be and at what time.
l Get the actual ads from your local newspaper
Despite having a detailed list on what items you need to get and what stores are selling them, you also need to get the actual ads from the newspaper. This is a way of making sure the ad is the same as you saw on the website and can be effective in knowing exactly what the item or its box looks like. Some ads also have coupons you can use on Black Friday.
The best way to capture all of the deals is to go Black Friday shopping with a partner. That's also another good reason to take the physical ads with you. You can hand it to your teammate with circled items they can grab while you get other items on your list. It is important to note that you need to bring a partner who is focused on your list or whose list is similar.
l Have the right attitude
Black Friday shopping is an adrenaline rush and it's easy to get annoyed. Go into the mission with a good attitude and know that there will be huge crowds and you may not get every item on your list.
Also realize you will wait in long lines to get into the stores, to get your items and especially when checking out. Don't sweat it. Stick to the plan and you'll have a successful Black Friday shopping trip.
Megan E. Greenwalt is a Tribune Chronicle correspondent, public relations specialist for a company in Valley View, Ohio, and a seasoned Black Friday shopper.