Black Friday is closer than ever, with many big-name stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Whether you're braving the crowds for the first time or consider yourself a Black Friday shopping veteran, consider these 10 last-minute tasks with the help of Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert, to prep you for the biggest shopping day of the year.
Research circulars and map out a route. Check your inbox, mailbox and the Internet for updates on store circulars and Black Friday deals. Map out your route, starting with your local mall.
Make a list and stick to it. You'll be tempted to deviate from your holiday gift list during the Black Friday madness, and that's exactly what retailers are hoping for. Last year, Black Friday sales reached $52.4 billion, up 16 percent over the year before. The best way to stick to your budget is to use cash.
Charge up your phone. This is one point many of us have to work on. You'll need a suitable diversion while waiting in line and your smartphone serves as a good distraction. Make sure your smartphone is fully charged and fully loaded with helpful apps. Download the Coupon Sherpa mobile app for extra discounts, the RedLaser app for instant price-comparison, and Decide to ensure you're buying at the right time.
Fuel up. In New York City, gas is still a commodity that you can't afford to go without. Consider carpooling or fuel up the day before to save time and money.
Organize your wallet. Whether paying by cash or credit cards, make sure they are easy to access. And designate a spot in your wallet for receipts in case something needs to be returned. You can also download the OneReceipt app to keep a mobile record of all your purchases.
Cash in on rewards. If you have a credit card that offers reward points, redeem the points you accrue for gift cards to give as gifts, or to use toward the purchase of gifts as a unique money-saving method.
Buddy up and layer. This way you can split your list and cover more ground in less time. Don't forget to bundle up with layers so that you can stay warm when waiting in long line outdoors and remove excess clothing when inside.
Pack snacks and hydrate. Every seasoned Black Friday shopper knows there's a lot of downtime. Be sure to hydrate and pack snacks to avoid wasting time and money in costly food lines.
Skip the crowds. Who wants to stand in line for hours in the cold? Most stores offer the same Black Friday deals online, with some stores like Sears and Sam's Club offering deals and doorbusters to online shoppers before Nov. 23.
Blow it off. Black Friday isn't necessarily the best day to buy gifts and other holiday goods this season. You can put off your holiday shopping to as late as Monday, Dec. 17, when thousands of retailers participate in Free Shipping Day and offer deep discounts and free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve.