Black Friday can be an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. If you don’t know how to get properly organized and prepare for Black Friday, you could miss the best deals.

As a Houston professional organizer I do more than home organizing, life organization is a speciality of mine as well. That’s why I have put together these Black Friday shopping organization strategies to help enjoy a smoother experience and still score all those great deals.

Make a Budget (Now)

The first step in Black Friday shopping organization is deciding how much you can afford to spend this holiday season. Decide on the items you absolutely must have, including gifts and other purchases you’ve been saving for. But then leave a little budget room for impulse buys and a few great deals you can’t pass up. Once you’ve come up with a figure, resolve to stick to it, no matter what.

Check Prices Before Black Friday

This step might seem like a waste. If Black Friday has good deals, why do you need to look at prices now? But by checking up on pricing for the items on your list now, you’ll have more confidence in the offers you see during Black Friday. For example, knowing that an Amazon Echo goes for $99 now means you’ll recognize that a lower price tag on Black Friday really is a solid deal.

Study the Ads

Study the Black Friday ads. Check the circulars for your favorite stores first, but don’t ignore the ones from places you might not normally shop! While it’s easy to buy a new Echo device from Amazon, stores like Staples or Best Buy could have better savings locally. Make a note of any restrictions, including deals that only run until a certain time.

Weigh Up Online vs. In-Store Shopping

If you can’t stand the crowds in-store, staying online might sound like the perfect alternative. But online shopping can come with a few drawbacks. Watch out for short-lived deals that sell out fast, a lack of inventory transparency, and website crashes (or outright refusals to load).

If you can, look at both in-store and online prices. A retailer’s website might start Black Friday sales earlier than the physical store, helping you get a better price. Or it might just match store prices. Even if the latter is the case, you’ll still avoid fighting over parking spaces if you shop online!

Braving the crowds to get an exclusive deal? Black Friday shopping in-store can be a test of anyone’s patience. While crowds might not reach mythical levels, you can still expect longer wait times.

Bookmark Pages Ahead of Time

If you’re planning on shopping online, you should be using bookmarks. Most times, bookmarking a product page ahead of time can save your precious seconds when sales go live. However, note that sometimes stores will have products at different URLs. In these cases, you could find yourself staring at a 404 error message. If you’d rather not risk that, at least bookmark the homepage of the store’s website — you’ll still save at least a little time.

Craft an In-Store Game Plan

If hitting the stores doesn’t fill you with dread, don’t think you can just plunge into it blindly. You still need a game plan. Check the ads for your most wanted items and find the retailers that have the best deals. Then note store opening hours and how long the discounts run — doorbuster deals are usually available for a limited time.

Here, you have to prioritize. Shop for items based on whether they’ll be on sale for a short amount of time, or if they’re in high demand (and likely to sell out quickly).

If your game plan involves creating a dream team of friends and family to help, try to coordinate your lists. Assign your team members to different stores to maximize doorbuster coverage. You can meet up later to swap items and pay each other back.

Forget the Cart

If a huge item isn’t on your list, consider hitting the stores with reusable shopping bags instead of pushing a cart around. These bags make it easier to navigate through crowds, and are a good tool to guard against impulse shopping. If you can only buy what you can carry, you’ll be more careful about what you head to the register with.

Dress Appropriately

This goes beyond dressing for the cold or for overheated stores. Headed to Best Buy or Target? Unless you have a ton of patience and don’t mind helping people, we’d suggest not wearing a blue or red shirt at these stores, respectively. You could be mistaken for staff, and inundated with requests to help find items or check prices. How many times will you be able to explain you don’t work for the store before feeling exasperated? Better to err on the side of caution!

Start Shopping on Thanksgiving… or Even Sooner

Savvy Black Friday shoppers know the best deals can pop up before the big day itself. Some of the best savings can actually be found on Thanksgiving, and many retailers prefer to roll out deals even sooner to try to beat the competition.

Be Ready to Stand in Line

No matter what time you shop on Black Friday, you’re bound to encounter at least one notable wait. Make sure you have entertainment on hand, lest your boredom leads to impulse purchases.

Think about adding a new playlist or audiobook to your phone (and remember to take out your earbuds before dealing with any store associates). That said, focus on the essentials. Don’t take anything that’s likely to become a pain to carry around while shopping.

Download Apps and Save Extra

While standing in those long lines, double-check that you’re getting the best deal. If you do find a better price elsewhere, the store might match it. Alternatively, you can order online and head to the next store on your list.

Beware of Final Sale Items

Plenty of Black Friday promotions claim to offer the lowest prices of the season. However, before you rush to buy anything — especially a big-ticket item — check to see if it’s a “final sale.”

Products with that designation typically can’t be returned, and if they can be, they could incur a restocking fee of at least 15%. Familiarize yourself with the store’s policy before you add that new TV to your cart.

Stay Organized

Mail-in rebates and store credits are popular forms of Black Friday discounts. Retailers tend to prefer these kinds of savings, as they’re able to advertise deep discounts, but still rake in the full prices for these items. It’s a win-win, really.

Redeeming those offers can be tricky for those who aren’t well-organized. I suggest tucking your receipts and rebate forms into a special envelope or section of your wallet. When you’re home, create a spreadsheet with all the pertinent details for each offer, including the product, store, dates the offer is valid, and anything else you might need to scoop up those savings.

Be a Social (Media) Butterfly

Whatever your favorite social platform might be (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or something else entirely), start following your favorite stores now. Keep a close eye on these accounts, as coupons, sale previews, or even Black Friday ads will appear there. These can net you some serious savings, or help you find a bargain you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Be Kind to Everyone

Please be nice to sales associates. They have to face long lines, temperamental customers, and probably co-workers who have zero desire to be there. You won’t be able to control the people around you, but you can definitely be a bright spot in someone else’s stressful day.

Just Organized By Taya
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