Shop Smarter and Save More on Black Friday

By , Caren Oppenheim, Family Circle
Turkey, pumpkin pie, football, family. Thanksgiving might include any of those things, but for many people, a vital part of the holiday weekend is the shopping. And while there are countless bargains to be found, not all promotions may be worthy of an early wake-up call or being jostled by crowds. We put Claudia Lombana, PayPal Shopping Specialist, to the test for her best Black Friday advice. 
Q. What's a smart tactic for snagging great discounts?
A. Do your homework. For one of the most popular shopping days of the year you need a plan of attack or you're bound to miss out on the top deals. Check online or in the newspaper for promotional ads, but read the fine print extremely carefully. You should also have a specific budget and a shopping list to keep you on track. Next, compare prices and see what other stores are offering.
Q. Is lining up the night before worth it?
A. Probably not. Many companies offer hyper-discounted items at opening, but generally there are only a handful of these products available. So unless you're in position to grab one of the five TVs at a cut-rate price, you're better off sleeping.
Q. Should you wait for Cyber Monday or head to a store?
A. That's personal preference, but more people are avoiding the frenzy by shopping on their computers, tablets or mobile devices. And many deals are available online before Cyber Monday. Web surfing offers convenience and flexibility, but you can't actually examine an item the way you can at a store.
Q. What's most important for safely purchasing online?
A. Never enter your credit card information on a website's checkout page if the URL doesn't have an safter http. An https at the beginning of the link means it's a secure site. You also shouldn't click on a link in an e-mail if you don't know the sender. Instead, copy and paste the URL into a new page.
Q. Can you score major savings during the holidays outside of Black Friday?
A. Thanksgiving is becoming an increasingly popular day for deals. They're being posted earlier, sending people straight from the dinner table to the Web. Some retailers will lower prices after Black Friday, but it's never a sure thing and there could be less inventory. Bottom line: Watch for sales throughout the entire season rather than assuming stellar discounts are offered only on one specific day.
Apps to Help You Shop
Stay abreast of the best deals with these four apps, perfect for buying on the go.
Click here for more Black Friday tips from Family Circle.
More from Family Circle:Are you shopping on Black Friday? What is your gift giving stragey?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I didn't go shopping on Black Friday the last couple of years. This year I had already shopped as we are going away December 12th. However, in the past I have gone with my daughter. My take on it was that there weren't so many great buys after all. The main benefit was to my daughter as I stood in line for her while she got a bit more shopping in. Report
To each their own. I see a lot of comments from Black Friday naysayers, but as for me, it's a tradition and I love going. Not only that, but if you shop smart there are a TON of bargains which truly are just that. Normally I would stop short of actually shopping on Thanksgiving evening, but this year we did go to WalMart and picked up a few incredible deals. If we were home we'd have probably been sitting in front of the TV in a food coma, or worse yet, going back for more goodies. By getting out and moving around we felt energized. Then we went back home for some good sleep before setting out again at 6am.

Bonding, family fun, shopping that would need to be done at some point anyway, and good, smart buys. What's not to like? Report
We didn't get to have smoked turkey for Thanksgiving, because the smoker gave up the ghost that morning. I hadn't planned to shop on Friday, but a new one WAS on sale early morning, and from previous experience, I knew that would be the least expensive of the year. While there, we also took advantage of some good clothing prices for things we needed. A bit crazy, yes, but we had fun. :-) Then went home and got a nap! Report
Yes, I'm going so I can get a computer for my son's gf as he will be shopping with her over at her city. Also, shoes are 25% off and I need a couple of pairs so I'm going to get them. They also have a new drill and it is half price so my husband is going to get that. Report
I agree with almost everyone - it is so not worth it to waste a day trucking through the crowds to buy stuff that may or may not actually be a bargain. Not me. I try to buy stuff through the year, as I am able. I hate crowds, and would rather hit Wal-Mart at 8 A.M. on a regular weekday, when it isn't too busy, if I even need to go to a retail store at all. I much prefer catalogue shopping in any event. Report
I will be sleeping late, going to the gym, and enjoying my house full of college kids. Shop??? No way! Report
Black Friday deals are not really deals. Either retailers jack up their prices the week before so they can knock them down, or they have a few loss leaders where they won't make money and make it back on the "as long as I'm here" items. I did it once, I'll never do it again. Report
I refuse to shop any earlier than 9am on Black Friday morning. There is nothing I want at 2am that can't be bought at 9am. I've always felt bad for all those employees who had to work at some obscene hour. Those long hours and little pay are the reason Walmart employees have been threatening to strike on Black Friday. Why should they be forced to work Thanksgiving day ?

In general, I've noticed that many places have better deals the closer you get to the holiday. You really do have to be an informed consumer and know exactly what you want. Report
On Black Friday my fiance and I will be doing the fall yard cleanup and burning off any excess calories from the day before. :-)

Gotta agree with previous posters about the impact of pushing shopping further and further into November. I'm a strong believer that the holiday season doesn't begin until *after* Thanksgiving, and that holiday should be left as a day to celebrate being with family and friends. Report
Support Small Business Saturday! Report
Never understood why the States had Black Friday, now it's leaking into Canada, to entice the Canadians to stay here. I watched 20/20 or one of those shows, they actually mention there are times that the item you are specifically looking for, is usually (65% of the time) cheaper at a different time of the year, not neccassarily on Black Friday. Report
I agree complete with TIEDYED69PEACE. I have never been one to get involved in the Black Friday frenzy. I do most of my shopping online to avoid the crowds, but I don't save it all for Cyber Monday. Personally, I've never found that many big sales for the items I'm searching for on Cyber Monday. I usually do a little shopping here and there and spread it out. Report
I shop on Boxing Day (12/26). I know exactly what store I want to go to, exactly what I want, and the store that I like organizes the clothes by size, so I go straight to that rack, pick out what I want, and pay. One year I bought everything I wanted and out of the store within 6 minutes of them opening the doors. Shopping is an art, and if you need to line up for hours, you're doing it wrong. Report
Black Friday was a sad idea, but the idea of "Black Friday" starting on Thanksgiving is just disgusting. It is just one more shift away from family and towards consumerism. It is sad that people think it is much more important to get thermal underwear for $3 and Tickle Me Elmo for $10 instead of being with their families. What's sadder is that now the retail stores are forcing their employees (often without extra pay) from their dinner tables on such a potentially wonderful holiday in order to slave over a register while throngs of people buy the thermals and Elmo dolls. And the cherry on top: to think, people get stomped to death for this merchandise.
No thanks. I find better deals often outside of Black Friday, or more thoughtful creative gifts on websites like Besides, I'd rather pay the extra $5 for Elmo than participate in such a wasted use of time and energy.

Side note: These people who have been camping outside of stores for about a week now... don't they have jobs? Report
I am not a Black Friday shopper. I don't enjoy the throng of people, and I am not aggressive enough. The best way for me to Christmas shop is to do it throughout the year. When people mention they wish they had ____, get it for them, if it's within your budget. You can also put it on a list to get for their birthday or Christmas. Christmas has become a litmus test for me. How well am I communicating with the people I say I love most? How accurately am I aware of their needs? Report