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You Can Tame the Black Friday Beast

Do you know why the Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday?” It’s dubbed that because many retailers record their highest profits of the year on that one day alone. In fact, some retailers operate in the red (losing money) most of the year, and Black Friday is the day that turns it all around for them.

While it’s true that you can score some great deals and save money by shopping on Black Friday, you don’t want to go into debt doing it.

Here are some Black Friday savings and survival tips to help you navigate the retail jungle.

Plan Ahead. Black Friday has become such a highly anticipated event that stores will intentionally “leak” their sales flyers in advance just to create buzz. Check out a site like, which shows you all the major retailers’ sales flyers so you can plan what you’re buying, create a budget and stick to it. Remember, many of the heavily advertised items may only be available in limited quantities. Read the fine print and disclaimers, then plan accordingly.

Suit Up and Fortify. Carry a small, cross-body purse or messenger bag to allow you to keep your valuables close and navigate through crowds more easily. Dress in weather-appropriate layers you can slip on and off easily as the temperature fluctuates. And save money by bringing your own coffee and snacks so you’re not tempted to overpay at the coffee shop and food court. After all, spending less on eggnog lattes means more to spend on gifts! saleshoppingimage

Check and Compare. Every store wants you to believe they’re offering the best Black Friday deal, but how do you  really know? Download one of the price comparison apps like Red Laser or Shop Kick so you can do on-the-spot price comparisons and know for sure you’re getting the best deal.

Know Policies and Procedures. Ask about a store’s seasonal return policy and procedures before you buy. Is there a service or restocking fee for returns? Can an item be returned if the tags have been removed? Are returns given in store credit only? And do regular return policies apply to Black Friday purchases?  These are all things to know before you purchase, especially on big-ticket items like electronics.

Budget. Budget. Budget. It’s the one piece of advice that will save you the most money in the long run. Plan your budget and stick to it. Shop with a list and don’t be tempted just because something is priced low. It doesn’t matter how great the deal is if it’s something you don’t need and won’t use. Despite what advertisers want you to believe, Black Friday shopping isn’t a competition. There are no prizes for the winning shopper, but you can lose big if  you forget about your budget and savings goals.