November 19, 2019 Francesca Sacco Tips to get the most out of Black Friday Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner. While some people are willing to brave the crowds for deals, even more will stay home and take advantage of the savings online. Either way, it’s pays to have a game plan. Here are a list of tips that will help you save time and get the best deals. Know what you can afford. In 2018, the average Black Friday shopper spent over $500. That’s a lot of money, and in some cases, the bulk of an individual’s pay. Before you spend a dime on Black Friday, be sure to set a budget and make sure to stick with it. Make a list of everyone you are shopping for, what you plan to buy them and how much you expect to spend. Be sure to include other options in case the item you were hoping to score is no longer available. Take the time to research the items on your list via ads and apps beforehand. There are plenty of apps that allow you to compare prices in advance, and there are even more websites that allow you to compare deals. Plan your shopping trip. Know what items you need from which store, and start with your must-have item. Many retailers now start to put items on sale online before Black Friday. In fact, the best time to secure deals are the day before Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday (Black Friday is no longer one day). Take the time to check on your pricier items earlier in the week. You might snag a better deal! Doorbusters aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re braving the crowds, know that doorbusters are few and far between. It’s not unusual for retailers to limit doorbusters to 25-100 items at each store. Some retailers will offer a shopping guarantee – if you’re shopping in the store by a certain time you’ll be guaranteed to get that item – so make sure you read the ad carefully. Use discounted gift cards. You can find them online at popular – and legitimate – clearinghouses like Raise and CardCash. Both offer discounts between 2% and 35% of face value. Before you buy, make sure you’re selecting the option that best suits your needs as you can choose between physical cards and online-only coupon codes. If you have 7 17’s Benefits Plus® Checking, don’t forget to take advantage of the savings and cash back when shopping online at more than 500 of the nation's top retailers. The Benefits Plus mobile app automatically searches for deals, and allows eGift Cards to be sent to your phone for instant redemption! Remember that not everything is really a deal. Retailers don’t have to offer their lowest price until closer to December 25. This means that the toaster you’re eyeing might drop 40% or more closer to Christmas. Be sure to check the original sticker price against the sale price to see if you’re really getting a deal. Only certain items are deeply discounted on Black Friday, so don’t fall for the hype. If you’re buying for other people, check the return policy. Some stores offer liberal return policies for items purchased on Black Friday, while others will only be valid for 30 days. If you’re not sure about it and you don’t know the return policy, don’t buy it. Also, don’t forget to ask for gift receipts! Take an envelope along to store receipts and gift receipts so they don’t get misplaced. These are just a small sample of the hundreds of tips for a successful Black Friday. If you can, do your research. Taking the time to search for items and deals in advance can really pay. And above all, remember to have fun! The holidays can be stressful, but preparing for them doesn’t have to be.