Black Friday: You either love it or you hate it. I admit, I am one of those people who love it. The crowds. The adrenaline. The deals. It feels like you are part of an event, similar to the rush of crowd-surfing at your favorite band's concert.
I get 90 percent of my Christmas shopping done on Black Friday each year. I started doing this as a newlywed working my first 'real' job. Every penny counted, and the list of people I was buying for had just doubled! My husband and I set our Christmas budget that very first year, and it wasn't looking pretty. I knew I had to do something to make it stretch.
Weeks in advance, I made a list of every person I needed to shop for along with some ideas for presents. My mantra was to be like Santa Claus – make a list and check it twice. To stretch my dollars even further, I looked into getting a cash back credit card as well. Then I waited for the sales to be announced.
I love a good deal, and with Black Friday sales of up to 50 percent off, I've found that I am able to buy more generous presents. Even as my career and budget has grown over the years, I've kept it up. Having all – or almost all – of my Christmas shopping done before December gives me more time to enjoy the holidays!
Start planning early
Stores have started releasing black Friday ads earlier and earlier. Last year, a few announced the deals in October, while many retailers chose to release the ad in early November. Sites like BlackFriday.com compile all the deals in one place for easy browsing.
When I start planning earlier, I have more time to weigh pros and cons and decide what fits my budget. I love matching up an item on my list with a good sale. That's pure magic. Then I make a prioritized list for the actual day. Electronics and toys usually sell out first, while items like clothing can be found later.
Find doorbusters online
Everyone knows about Cyber Monday. But don't forget, many retailers will also be running online sales on Black Friday. Research by Dealnews.com found that 70 percent of Black Friday doorbusters are at least briefly online. After my morning shopping run, I head home to finish my list. I make myself a big cup of hot chocolate and settle into a comfy chair to find the best online deals.
Get cash back
My husband and I are big fans of cash back cards. We can keep some rewards from throughout the year – when we're spending on normal purchases like gas and groceries – to help us out when I'm having fun Christmas shopping.
This helps keep purchase regret to a minimum, even if a few not-on-the-list deals make their way into my cart. And at the end of the day, I get cash back on the new purchases, too! I love giving myself the gift of extra cash – and you can too! Buying gifts for others while earning cash for yourself? Sounds like a win-win!