Black Friday 101

Black Friday 101 2016

Are you new to the biggest and best shopping day of the year? Do you want to maximize your savings and minimize your stress? Whether you are looking for advice on how to shop Black Friday online or just trying to make sense of all the sale information, we're happy to share our expert advice. Read on to learn how to shop Black Friday like a deal hunter.

1) Make A List and Check It Twice

The first step to successful shopping is knowing what you want to buy. We personally like to make a list of 1-2 items per person for Christmas gifts, as well as what we'd like to purchase for ourselves. This helps keep your head clear in the shopping frenzy. With thousands of doorbusters and deals to choose from, it's easy to get carried away and spend more than you were planning to. Ideally you have this list started, if not completed, by mid-October.

2) Do Your Research

Once you have an idea of the items that you'd like, it's time to do your research. Enter BFAds! Once ad scans leak early, you can sift through them for items on your list. For example, if you want a 65" 4K television, you should pay special attention to stores like Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and Dell. Not sure where to begin? Check out our Buying Guides and Articles for how-tos, tips, and tricks on buying big-ticket items.

When you find specific Black Friday deals that you'd like to purchase, make a Shopping List. We have this feature available to members of our website (become one for free), or you can build it out in another way if you wish. Our Deal Team includes the item, store, time the sale / deal goes live (if known) and price on their shopping lists. In addition, since this is Black Friday shopping we're talking about, it's good practice to have a backup item or two in mind in case your first choice sells out. We advise making the list in order of most - to - least wanted. If there are 5 items that you absolutely have to get for your holiday shopping to be successful, they should be at the very top of your list.

Another important factor to keep in mind is doing your price research. Some stores are infamous for jacking up their prices right before a sale so the deal looks better than it actually is. Keep an eye out for inflated MSRPs and deals that are contingent on rewards points -- for example, if an item is "free after CVS rewards", and you never use CVS rewards, are you really saving money?

3.) Divide and Conquer

Will you be flying solo or is your team roster full? Are you shopping online, snagging in-store exclusive doorbusters, or both? Go through your collective list(s) and come up with a plan. For instance, if there's a limit of 2 TVs per person at Walmart, and you need four of them, at least two of you need to go shopping there. If you're exchanging cash, do it beforehand and remember to keep sales tax in mind. Otherwise you can keep receipts and figure out the balances afterwards.

3a) Shopping Online? Start Here

No, seriously, start at BFAds! As soon as a Black Friday sale goes live, we put it up in a sales grid on our front page. Here's an example of what it looked like last year. Our front page is the only bookmark you need on Black Friday because you'll see every shoppable sale as soon as they're live. We're staffed 24/7, so even when Newegg inevitably puts their sale live 4 hours early, we'll be here to tell you about it.

We're partial to online shopping because we can do it in our jammies and potentially score Cash Back through Ebates. However, keep in mind that you do run the risk of your items selling out, because you can't tackle Janice over the last Tickle-me-Elmo through the Internet.

In the days before Black Friday (or any online sale like Prime Day and Cyber Monday), it's good practice to get your information in order. You want to clear your cache and cookies first and foremost. You can do this in the history section of your browser (press CTRL + H). Then you want to go through the stores you'll be shopping at and save your information with them.

Sign up for an account and save your shipping address, billing address, and a couple of forms of payment. Some browsers even let you save your information directly with them, in case your merchant of choice doesn't. In addition, make sure you are signed up for a PayPal account and that it's linked to your payment method of choice. It's free, easy, and often faster than checking out the traditional way. Then clear your cache again. This way, when you're fighting Janice over the last Tickle-me-Elmo, you'll be pressing "submit order" while she's typing in her address. Sorry, Janice!

3b) Navigate the Crowds Like A Pro

If you're shopping in-store, we can help you there too. Shopping in-store on Black Friday is undeniably fun, but it can be stressful as well.

If possible, scope out the stores you're going to beforehand. Stores will often place their Black Friday items in strange places, like the hot TV doorbuster in the soup aisle, but it's still a good idea to get a general feel of the store. Your location also might have store maps released; bigger merchants like Target and Walmart usually have a map showing which doorbuster will be located where so you can make a beeline right for it on the big day. BFAds covers store maps as soon as they become available.

Bring your BFAds shopping list with you, and make sure you know your store's opening hours. We'll post that information as soon as we have it but it's always a good idea to call your location leading up to Black Friday and double-check.

You're going to want to be prepared physically as well. Get a big sleep, a big coffee, or both. We recommend using a small cross-body purse or a fanny pack (seriously!) to keep your belongings close. Bring multiple payment methods, a portable charger, a drink, and your comfiest shoes because those lines will be long!! We also think it's good to dress in layers, including your snazzy BFAds Black Friday shirt, since stores often range from subzero temperatures to Hot Like The Sun.

Remember to stay patient and have fun! Feel free to document your experience and send it to us on Facebook or Twitter. We'd love to see your Black Friday pictures and videos!

Rule of Thumb

Black Friday sales and deals start earlier every year, so keep an eye out in the weeks beforehand. If you're waiting to buy a stand mixer for $200 on Black Friday and you see it on sale for $210 in early November, purchase it! It is worth it for some people to pay a little extra for the peace of mind. In addition, don't skip out on post-Black Friday sales. Cyber Monday has fantastic deals on tech, and Free Shipping Day is one of the best days aside from Black Friday to purchase clothing and toys. We cover every post-Black Friday sale through the end of the shopping season.

Did we miss something? Any questions? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks for Visiting and Good Luck!

September 19, 2016
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Hey there!

We're partnering with our sister site, BFAds, to bring you the best Black Friday content on the web!

BFAds is the “wikileaks” of Black Friday. With over a decade of experience, BFAds is the definitive source for Black Friday news, early ad scan leaks, Black Friday buying guides, doorbuster roundups, and informative articles. In fact, this team has been powering your Black Friday ad scans for over a year. Now we’re letting them take the spotlight.

We work very closely with BFAds — like, in the same building close — and they’re excited to be able to improve your Black Friday experience.

The FatWallet Team

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