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A Shopper’s Survival Guide to Black Friday

It’s 4 a.m. on Black Friday.

While many will be tucked in bed dreaming of turkey and pumpkin pie leftovers, a large majority of consumers across the country will be hitting the stores. In 2013, the National Retail Federation says that 92.1 million consumers shopped during Black Friday.

So before you head out the door with a strong cup of coffee, some patience for crowds and comfortable shoes, plan ahead with these four tips to keep you and your money safely on budget.

Stick to your financial plan.

The best way to avoid shopping temptation is to make a list. You’ve identified who’s on the nice list, so stick to it! Trust me, when there are deals to be had, it’s hard not to buy for everyone – neighbors, dog sitter, massage therapist. Do yourself and your money a favor and stay focused before the shopping spirals out of control.

This also means leaving the house with a budget. Set a financial limit for the day or perhaps the entire holiday season. And don’t spend beyond your means. If using cash will keep you honest, then leave your plastic at home.

Research first. 

I love a good bargain and that means knowing where to find them. Doing your homework before you shop can help save you time and money. Scour ads and store websites for special Black Friday promotions, coupons and door buster specials to maximize your dollar. Take time to price compare against similar stores to find the most value.

It’s also important to understand a store’s return or rain check policies, especially if you’re purchasing a gift.

Sleep in. Shop local.

Consider skipping Black Friday all together and support small businesses in your area. Local restaurants, bakeries, boutiques and small bookstores for example are great places to find unique holiday gifts and experiences while putting money back in to your community.

Be safe, secure and sound.

Holiday shopping safety starts the moment you get in your car. Park in well-lit areas at stores. Keep your money, purchases and receipts close. Be aware of your surroundings when entering passwords at the ATM machine or checkout. And don’t leave your purchases in plain view in your car.

So if you’re heading out for Black Friday, stay financially focused and festive!