I don’t mean to brag, but I’m kinda a pro at this whole Black Friday thing. I’ve been doing Black Friday shopping since I can remember. Before stores were open on Thanksgiving, or at midnight my Mom, sister and I would line up outside of Elder Beerman department store at 4 a.m., bundled up trying to keep warm (or stay awake) waiting for the doors to open. Every year they would give you a $10 off a $25 purchase on any item (well except doorbusters) and we would rush in with the rest of the mob, grab our certificate and make our way to one of the other entrances to try and nab more (this is just the way we did things – everyone did. Don’t judge!)
We would spend time there, and make our way to other stops like Meijer, K-mart, Sears (this was even before Walmart was around) and then to the mall. We’d go get breakfast, shop some more, than lunch. By the time I got home I was exhausted but this was more than a shopping trip – it was a family tradition.
One Black Friday about 13 years ago we came home to empty the trunk (yes, we bought that much) to find out that my Grandpa had passed. I was pregnant with my oldest, and I remember the pure shock standing in the kitchen watching my Dad’s lip quiver as he told us. Black Friday took on more of a meaning that year – and has every year since. It’s not about getting the last T.V. or video game off the shelf, or feeling like we got a steal from the store – but it became a therapeutic tradition for my family to still spend that day together.
I am not a big fan of these stores opening on Thanksgiving – heck, I’m not even a fan of them opening at midnight. I’ve worked retail and it was bad enough working nights and weekends, let alone holidays. We don’t shop on Thanksgiving, period. But once that clock strikes midnight my Mom, sister and I meet up at my Mom’s house to spend some time together and keep the tradition going. We’ve come up with some tips to make this Black Friday an (successful) tradition you can share with your loved ones and friends.
1. By far the most important tip of them all – make it about memories, not money. To be honest you could probably get the deals that they are advertising at some other point in the year. You could also get these deals online, from the comfort of your own home. Heck, even in the warmth of your own comfy cozy bed in your pj’s with a cup of coffee and a laptop. But you won’t get to see your Mom trip out of the car from pure exhaustion, and almost pee yourself from laughing because you are all so slap happy from not getting any sleep. Those are the times that you will remember – not the T.V. you got for $100.
2. Don’t snatch a game out of another shoppers hand (yes, this happened to me). Luckily it wasn’t something any of my kids just had to have or I would of been really upset. And maybe even years ago that would of been worth a fight, but I laugh about it now. No video game, movie, toy, or electronic is worth getting into a squab. Show some courtesy to your fellow shoppers – it’s really quite simple. Don’t push and shove to get in a store, don’t snatch stuff out of peoples hands, don’t cut in line, don’t curse at someone or run them over with a cart (or a car for that matter). We have all gotten wayy out of hand, and this is honesty why I haven’t started my girls’ in on this tradition quite yet. People being trampled to death because someone was in a hurry to get into Walmart is not my ideal way to leave this world. So just be NICE.
3. There are some pretty cool apps that will help you find the best deals on what you are looking for. Visit the Play or App Store and search “Black Friday” – there are quite a few that will give you what you want. I am a big fan of Slickdeals.net that I was actually introduced to by a couple of ladies while we were waiting in line at Walmart on Black Friday quite a few years ago. They were shocked we never heard of it, and now I can see why! They have deals ALL YEAR LONG and they post the best deals n’ steals you can find online or in store. I have gotten a ton of things from them throughout the year, and they even post sweepstakes, and also coupon codes and such. Another good source for coupons is Coupon Sherpa, where you can find Kohl’s coupon codes and promo codes to Kohl’s. You can also keep an eye out for deals posted by deal bloggers – I’ve scored a few times by following them as well.You can also keep an eye out for deals posted by deal bloggers – I’ve scored a few times by following them as well.
4. Budget – I cannot say this enough. I don’t care HOW GOOD OF A DEAL IT IS, if you can’t pay cash for it, or pay off your credit cards in the same month. IT’S NOT A GOOD DEAL. I can say this from experience as well. I foolishly would borrow money to shop for Christmas and pay it back at tax time – once I looked at the interest & fees, I might as well of paid full price!! Which brings me to number five
5. Make a LIST and check it TWICE – Make a list of who you are shopping for, and what you want to get them. Yes, you may change your mind about what to get your co-worker, or niece, but having a notebook (or at least a note in your phone) and checking them off as you finish their shopping will keep you from over spending. When I buy for my kids I like to give them an even amount of gifts, and spend an even amount of money. If I don’t keep track, things get out of hand fast. One year I started to wrap presents and realized that my oldest was screwed – so I started shopping for her, and low and behold, I over shopped. So what did I do?? I got a few more for the other 2.., and so the cycle continued until I blew my budget. Don’t get stuck in that rut! Make a list!!
6. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD do not OVERPAY for an item. We see it every year – some big toy hits the shelves and they are sold out, and may not get another shipment until after Christmas. So we hit up eBay and pay double, sometimes triple or more for a gift that our kids just had to have. Sorry to break it to ya’ sister, but that Tickle Me Elmo you paid $200 bucks for a few years ago? Yeah I saw it in your garage sale for $1. DO NOT GET SUCKED IN!! Wait and get it for their birthday when there are thousands in stock in the stores and online. Most likely they won’t even realize they missed that ‘one gift they just had to have’ because they are too busy playing with the gazillion other toys that you, and the rest of the family got them. Plus, it’s never good to spoil them with everything they want right when they want it (so I hear – I’m working on that one myself).
7. Take Time to Laugh – seriously the past few years I can’t tell you how much I have looked forward to this day. Even though I am extremely exhausted (and most Friday’s I still have to go in and work in the afternoon) and sometimes even grumpy by the end of the day, we always have so much fun. Last year we got a glimpse of what it might be like if our poor timid Mother would be as a drunk (let’s just say it was amusing) and some of the conversations you will hear standing in line will crack you up! The silliness and laughter is way more valuable to me than anything in that shopping cart. Enjoy your life! Stop stressing about the presents and shopping and just enjoy your family – you never know when it may be your last!! Put away the phone, the MUST HAVE list, and spend time with your loved ones and friends and realize how much you really do have to be thankful for.