8 Frugal Skills You Need to Survive Black Friday


Black Friday: It's a day some of us look forward to, and others dread. It's the one day of the year when stores seemingly lose all sense of reality and offer products at prices that are insanely low.

Of course, anyone who really knows what's going on behind the scenes is well aware that the stores have not gone mad. Most are employing clever tactics, like loss leaders and limited doorbusters, to lure you in and get you spending. But if you arm yourself with the following frugal skills, you'll come out on top.

1. Iron-Clad Willpower

Temptation is everywhere on Black Friday. Even if you think you know every deal that's coming, you will be surprised by bargains you never dreamed of. This is the time to remain frugal, and hold firm to what you came there to get. A good way to think of it is this: If you didn't want it, no matter how cheap it was, it wasn't a bargain.

Grabbing handfuls of DVDs and Blu-Rays priced at $1.99 each may feel like you're ripping the place off, but if you're never going to watch them, what's the point? This goes for everything you see that day. Hold firm. What do you need, and what do you want? You should only be buying what you need on Black Friday, because otherwise, you can get swept away by the hysteria and spend more than you planned.

2. A Healthy Dose of Skepticism

Do not, for one second, think that the deals being presented on Black Friday are the most incredible money-saving bargains around. Sure, the doorbusters will be great opportunities to save, but they are always available in very limited quantities (in some cases, only a handful per store). And unless you're planning to spend hours, or even days, waiting in line, you aren't going to get them.

Many of the other deals you'll see on Black Friday have often been available on that price, or even lower, on other days of the year. And as always, take that RRP (recommended retail price) with a huge grain of salt. This is the price you see as "before," and the sale price as "after" — but chances are, the store never priced the item at that RRP.

3. The Patience of a Saint

Things are going to get tough, both mentally and physically, on Black Friday. There will be pushing and shoving, shouting and screaming, and sadly, injuries. The chaos can easily take hold of you, and before you know it you're right in there, grabbing at bargains, pushing people out of the way, and getting caught up in a world of trouble.

Take a step back. Breathe. Be patient. Remember, this is all just stuff. It may be stuff you'd like to have, or give as a gift, but it is not worth your health or sanity. What's more, by giving into your more animalistic emotions, you can find yourself spending more money than you wanted to. The competitive spirit can cloud your judgment, spurring you to buy more than you ever wanted. Have patience. If you can't get what you want on the day, don't worry. There will be other days.

4. Complete Preparation

One of the keys to surviving Black Friday is knowing exactly what you want to buy before you ever leave the house. And not only what you want to buy, but how much you're willing to pay for it.

On the day in question, your senses will be bombarded. Deals galore will hit you square in the face as you rush into each and every store, and it is very easy to become sidetracked. Before you know it, your cart is filled with everything but the items you actually wanted. So, stick to your guns, and stick to your list. The stores will all put out circulars well in advance of Black Friday. There are sites dedicated to Black Friday deals. Create a shopping list based on which stores you want to visit, what you want to get, and the top price you are going to pay. Follow it to the letter, and you'll stick to your budget and get the deals and items you really want.

5. A Good Memory

Most Black Friday deals are repeats of previous years. In fact, many of the deals are nearly identical, down to the same brand, price, and stores offering them. Black Friday, for most companies, follows a specific formula. This is calculated. They know what people are shopping for, what will sell, and most importantly, what the healthy profit margins are. That's why you will continually see circulars offering huge discounts on luggage, pots and pans, boots, food processors, cheap DVDs, and even air mattresses.

You won't, however, see huge discounts on the big video game systems, iPads, or other "in demand" tech. You will buy those regardless of the price, and stores are not going to miss out on those guaranteed dollars.

6. Knowing How to Compare and Save

Whatever your go-to way of price comparison shopping is, you need to have it locked down before the big day. Some people like apps such as ShopSavvy or RedLaser. Others simply pop the product into Google and see what prices show up. However you go about it, you need to have a strategy in place on the day. Don't buy anything without researching it first. If you're worried that the item will be scooped up by someone, hold onto it while you look it up. Is the deal on offer in that store the best one around? Is another store offering a mail-in rebate, or bundling it with other items for free? Your smartphone can save you hundreds of dollars on the day.

7. An Eye for Details

Frugal shoppers like to read the small print. They look at the little asterisks that are innocently slapped next to a price tag. They know that the devil is in the details, and in some stores, that devil can cost you quite a lot of money. So, get ready to look over every deal with the analytical mind of Sherlock Holmes. Is it really only $200, or are there strings attached? Do you have to buy two items together to get the price? Do you have to purchase the three-year extended warranty for the lower price? Is the steal of the day limited to only two stores in the whole state? Look closely, and make sure you are not being stung by small print.

8. Realizing Every Single Dollar Counts

Most of us are loss averse. We would much rather avoid losing $10 than find $10 in the street. On Black Friday, loss aversion can quickly crumble in the minds of shoppers. And the stores know just how to take advantage of it.

For instance, after you buy a $450 laptop, what's another $25 on a laptop case, or a flash drive? The thing is, on any other day of the week, you would scrutinize those purchases and look around for better deals. But on Black Friday, you are shelling out so much money that the smaller purchases slip under your usually frugal radar. Remember, every dollar counts. Examine every deal, even the small ones. If they're not worth it on any other day of the week, they're not worth it on Black Friday.

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Jeff | VTX Capital

This is great advice, some that many might want to take heed of come next Friday. I think some get caught up in the whole "Black Friday" thing and fail to realize that with a little careful planning, they could potentially save more money by actually not shopping on Black Friday.

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