5 tips to help you win Black Friday

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5 tips to help you win Black Friday

Black Friday may be rife with bargains, but it’s also stressful, crowded and can be expensive if you don’t plan ahead.

To make your Black Friday less stressful, here are five tips from retail and personal finance experts.

1. Do your research

Doorbuster deals advertised by retailers may seem like a bargain, but sales aren’t always for high-quality items. This makes research a key part of Black Friday prep. (Too lazy for Black Friday? These shopping tips are for you.)

“Merchants often advertise deals that sound too good to be true and actually are,” said Sarah Hollenbeck, shopping and retail expert with BlackFriday.com.

Researchers from BlackFriday.com pored over Amazon reviews of doorbusters featured last year and found many had ratings of three stars or less, said Hollenbeck. The lesson: Don't be fooled by deals. Instead, do research ahead of time to determine whether products are worth buying.

2. Develop a game plan

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on Black Friday is to start shopping without a plan.

“Craft a game plan and stick to it to help you strategically shop,” said Chelsea Hudson, retail expert at TopCashBack.com. “The general rule of thumb is: The higher the demand for the product, the earlier you should purchase. Prioritize retailers that have the best deals for your most-wanted items. Jot down store hours and how long the promotions will run for. Doorbusters usually have a limited quantity.”

3. Sign up for emails from retailers

While daily and weekly emails from retailers can clutter your inbox, it’s worth dealing with them in advance of Black Friday. (Sign up for the Policygenius newsletter to get one money tip each week.)

“As stores start rolling out their holiday promotions, they regularly send out emails with coupon codes and special deals for subscribers that can help you save a lot of money,” said Hollenbeck.

Also follow your favorite brands on social media for exclusive deals, said Hudson.

4. Use technology to your advantage

A variety of apps can make Black Friday bargain hunting easier.

The DealNews app lists Black Friday deals and organizes them according to staff picks, recency and popularity, said Jennifer Hayes, of the website Smarty Pants Finance.

Flipp posts Black Friday flyers, including more than 1,000 weekly ads from retailers and coupons from top brands.

“Some have already been leaked and are available to view on the app now for people who can't wait for the official flyers to come in the newspaper on Thanksgiving Day,” said Hayes.

5. Plan for everything

Saving money may be the primary focus, but don’t neglect other details surrounding your Black Friday extravaganza.

Arrange for transportation to the stores you hope to visit, Hudson said. Parking can be impossible in many places. And think about how you’ll transport all those bargain buys home.

“Take a suitcase to make carrying your purchases easier,” said Hudson. “Preparation is key to ensure your Black Friday shopping goes smoothly."

Image: kate_sept2004