It started as another shopping holiday and has grown into its own season. Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States, is a day of odd hours and long lines. A day when an elderly woman will tackle you for for the last sale. Without preparation Black Friday can be overwhelming–to put it mildly. Don’t fret, we’ve compiled a list of guidelines to ensure a successful Black Friday experience.


Do Your Research

Black Friday is all about saving big bucks so the best way to ensure you will be spending the least amount of coins is to do your research. Start by compiling a list of the things you need and check out all of your favorite stores–and even retailers you don’t normally shop at–for their deals. Make sure to look into the stores’ return policies and final sale items. Check daily for new deals to make sure you’re not missing the best offers. GottaDeal tracks Black Friday deals and provides you with email notifications. FatWallet and SlickDeals also come highly recommended for researching Black Friday deals. If you prefer tracking deals from your phone, try the ShopSavvy and Black Friday Survival Guide apps.

You should also look into early bird freebies given out on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. On those days, as one of the first shoppers in the door, you can receive some free items from several stores. DealNews is a good site to find these freebies along with other Black Friday deals. Also look for promo codes from sites such as Retailmenot.


Make a Game Plan

On Black Friday you are at a high risk of impulse shopping. We get it, it’s hard to pass up on a great deal, but that last minute doorbuster can bust right through your budget. Don’t bargain with your budget because you probably don’t need that leather case for the iPad you don’t even have.  The best way to prevent overspending is to make a game plan.

Black Friday isn’t one of those kind of events where you just dive in and hope for the best–remember that tackling elderly woman? Start by making a list of the things you want and the stores that have them. Keep in mind that you’ll need to be flexible with your shopping list as many items are often in limited supply. Have backup products and stores in case your first choices aren’t available. Next you should organize your shopping list by store and sale hours. Some stores have specific sale hours so you’ll need to plan when you need to leave before that food coma kicks in.


Prepare for Long Waits

When you think of Black Friday the first image you see is people camped out for days in front of Best Buy. Waiting is something you can’t avoid on that day. Dress comfortably; wear shoes that you can walk in for hours and clothes that will keep you warm while waiting outside. You’ll need some snacks and entertainment but you can also stay up-to-date with the deals while you wait. If you bring a friend along, you can hold each other’s spot in line for restroom breaks and check-out.


Just Stay Home

Waiting on line at midnight for hours and fighting for the last doorbuster deal takes the fun out of shopping. Avoid the chaos of large crowds and shop from the comfort of your home. Some companies offer deals exclusively online and free shipping. However, beware of websites crashing and inventories fluctuating. We suggest preparing your shopping carts in advance so that once Black Friday deals go live all you have to do is click on “check out.” The other option is to wait for Cyber Monday. The deals are sometimes better but products may be low in stock.

Even the most experienced shoppers find Black Friday intimidating. With these tips you won’t only survive Black Friday but conquer it. Just don’t forget your manners at home.