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Black Friday is the biggest shop-'til-you-drop-and-save-big day of the entire year -- and also one of the most stressful. In order to maximize my buying power and have the most productive, stress-free, successful day, I decided to ask for advice from the mom of good friends for her insider info. She's a Black Friday veteran and graciously offered me some of her very best tricks for surviving the madness...
Have a plan
Lay the ground work on the nights leading up to Black Friday by scouring websites and store ads to find out where the best deals are going to be. Then, compare it to the list of what you want to buy -- are you getting holiday presents for family members or friends? Are you stocking up on things you want or need? Make a list of your must-haves, and then -- this is important -- write them down. The day will be chaotic, so it will be easy to get derailed. Take your list with you, and stick to it.
Do your homework
For those same reasons above, make a point to double-check store opening times and sale times. Some stores do door-buster specials that only last for the first few hours, and many stores offer extended Black Friday hours (some open at 12:01 a.m.!). Use this info to map out what stores you'll visit and in what order.
Go with a friend
A shopping buddy can hold your place in a long line, help you decide between two great gifts for Dad, or offer dressing room feedback when you try on clothes. You can also carpool, which makes things more fun -- but don't put too many people in one car. You'll need to save room for all your fabulous finds!
Go in with the right attitude
Black Friday gets a lot of negative media attention -- the hostile crowds, the waiting lines, the door-buster stampedes -- but as my friend's mom says, 99 percent of the people out there are in great spirits and want to help each other out. There is very little grabbing and fighting, she says. So don't be one of those people who pushes or gives dirty looks -- it's Thanksgiving weekend, after all.
And finally, just go!
Don't let the crowds or the chaos deter you from a money-saving shopping adventure. After all, the expert I spoke to has doing this for years and says, "No matter what sales go on after Black Friday, I've learned that the savings are never as good as they are on that day." You've got to buy holiday gifts, so why not save a ton -- and get your shopping out of the way early? Sounds like a win-win to me.