By Matt Granite
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WGRZ) - As a shopper, and someone who's obsessed with saving money, Black Friday is a huge day for me. That's why I've used my own experiences to put together my personal top 10 tips for making this Black Friday the most successful shopping endeavor ever!
1) Make a list and stick to it
If you really want to save money, make a list of exactly what you need. Use our store stock lists or deal rankings next week and figure out the best places to get those things.
Every time you get distracted by a fabulous discount on something you've got no use for, you're wasting valuable shopping time. Sure, you save money - on something you never needed in the first place.
2) Throw out all your old shopping strategies
Yep, everything you've learned: Forget it.
Things are changing... and fast! The sales are already on. Black Friday lasts the whole weekend now and pretty much all the way through to Christmas.
The Internet has brought us a completely new way to find the best deals on everything we need, instead of hoofing it from store to store while suffering through a turkey hangover. So before you chug a vat of coffee to stay up and shop the midnight Black Friday sales, make sure you know all of your options. You can probably find the same great deals online and we'll be bringing you that information live throughout Black Friday right here.
3) Get hip to shipping
Before you complete your order, think about where those online gifts you're buying are going to end up. If you're shopping for your parents and heading to their house on Christmas day, ship the presents direct.
Most sites offer inexpensive gift wrapping options, the delivery companies really step up their game this time of year, and bottom line - you won't have to worry about hauling bulky gifts onto the plane.
4) Check back here at Ways2Save
You knew I was going to say this, but you really will find some of the hottest deals of the season right here for Ways2Save. It's always my pleasure to serve you up every awesome deal I find, but this is time of year, there's so many great savings that I hardly know what to do with myself!
I'll be updating our site and my Twitter feed each and every time I discover something new and spectacular, so please don't be a stranger.
5) Get organized
Make sure all of your coupons are lined up and ready to go. Take a look at our deal maps (available Tuesday), print the stock lists and pay attention to all the coupons I steal from Offers.com.
Another hot tip: If you're planning to brave the stores, take some "green" along. When the credit card system goes down and the mall ATM runs out of money, cash will be king!
6) Take a buddy
Of course, it's fun to shop with friends and family, but we're being practical here: When you shop together, you can split up and each go grab a bargain in a different part of the store. Just make sure you all have cell phones, so you can coordinate. (Smartphones are better because they let you use apps to check pricing and deals in competing stores throughout the day.)
I hate to say this, but it's also a good idea to have one or two people shopping and one keeping watch over the cart; there are plenty of unscrupulous shoppers who will have no qualms about stealing those deals you worked so hard to get even before you've had a chance to pay for them!
7) Research the doorbusters
If you're going after the biggest and the best deals - the doorbusters, as they're called - make sure you do your homework.
Check the leaked ads, as they'll often tell you how much of each item will be in the store. (For example, if it's a 42-inch plasma TV for just $99 and there are only 20 per store, you know you need to camp out early!)
You should also find out in advance how each retailer allocates its doorbusters to the line outside the store -- sometimes by ticket, sometimes at random, and sometimes (worst of all) by just letting it be a free-for-all when the store open.
Use our store maps to figure out the best route to the departments you plan to shop.
8) Dress for success
Sounds crazy, but what you wear will affect your shopping performance. You're going to be on your feet all day, so comfortable shoes are essential - and dress in layers.
If you plan to be standing outside in line at 3 a.m. in late November, I don't care where you are in this great country of ours: It's going to be COLD.
But once you're in the climate-controlled store, you'll want to shed a layer or two - so make sure you have somewhere to stash those clothes while you're busy shopping.
9) Don't be a basket case
You don't want to be pushing or pulling a shopping cart around. You need flexibility and mobility to get from department to department as fast as you can.
Consider bringing along a few big reusable shopping bags.
Oh, and this may seem obvious, but if your first purchase is something big, have a plan for what you're going to do with it (i.e. have someone carry it out to the parking lot or arrange to pick it up later).
The rest of your shopping trip won't be much fun if you're lugging around a bunch of giant items.
10) Ask questions and bring snacks
The busiest shopping days of the year can also be some of the most stressful.
If you're confused, can't find something, or just need help, don't be afraid to ask someone. The store folks are going to be busy too, but customer service is part of their job.
Asking your fellow shoppers is another option. The ones who already bought the item are the most helpful and least competitive.
Finally, make sure you have some snacks. Only the rookies end up in the food court during the madness. A bite of something sweet and a sip of juice might turn out to be all that stands between you and another couple of hours of bargain hunting.
A huge thank you to my good friend and bargain genius Roger Munford for giving me more than just a little help today and for the support through Black Friday.
Click here to follow Matt Granite on Twitter.