A Guide to Organized Holiday Shopping: Black Friday, Part 1

Many people buy into the “day after Thanksgiving” shopping hype, and if you don’t, then you at least know someone who does. And who could blame you, if you do? It is a great opportunity to buy quality Christmas presents at discounted prices. You may even find a few goodies for yourself. But before rushing out to battle the crowds…and I mean literally battle the crowds, here are a few “day after Thanksgiving” shopping strategies to keep in mind.

1. Making a list of what you hope to find – Before ever looking at any ads, think about what kinds of items you are hoping to find. Maybe you’d like to find a deal on a new computer or a digital camera. Or perhaps you are looking for sweaters to buy for family members. Make a list of exactly what you are looking for. This will help you to set limits for yourself and prevent you from going completely overboard.

2. Organizing ads – Nowadays you can view ads on the internet, but I like to do it the old fashioned way. Just buy a newspaper. There will be more ads than you will know what to do with. Start by discarding any ads for stores where you never shop and stores that have no items which you are interested in purchasing. Next sort the remaining ads into organized groups.(For example: Walmart, Kmart, ect. would go in one group. Electronic stores would go in another group.) Now that you’ve put the ads into like groups, you can pick up a small stack of ads at a time and look through them. By dividing the ads into groups, it is easier for you to compare prices and to stay focused on one thing at a time.

3. Viewing & Comparing Ads – As you view the ads, have a pen handy and circle any items that you find interesting. Place any ads you don’t like into the discard pile. As you are looking for the items on your wish list, you will find that some of the stores will have similar items. You may decide to buy one over the other by looking at the price or taking into account how close the store is to your home, or maybe you have a customer rewards card with one of the companies. (These three factors are especially important for items like clothing, movies, cds, and kitchen appliances, where the items will be the same or similar brands, and the items are pretty much interchangeable, regardless of where they are bought) However, some item comparisons are a little more involved. For items like electronics and tools put the ads side by side and read the specs for the items to decide which is actually the better deal. This all sounds like a timely process, but in the end it will save you money and time in the stores.

4. Create a stack of “good” ads. – After discarding all unwanted ads, and any ads that did not win in the price comparison race, you should be left with only small stack of good ads. At this time you may want to make a list of all the stores you plan to go to. If you still have a large stack, keep in mind, there are only so many hours in a day. Think of how much time you want to spend shopping versus how many ads you have, and try to weed out a few more ads.

Check back to read part 2.

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