7 Black Friday Shopping Hacks All the Insiders Know

I'll admit it: Black Friday is a sport. Between the early wakeup calls, long lines, and high-stakes deals, it's not an endeavor for the faint of heart. But if you're determined to score the best deals, which you probably are given that you're reading this, we're about to share a few Black Friday shopping tips that will set you apart as an expert shopper even if you're really a novice at the post-Thanksgiving holiday. If it's your first time venturing out for the biggest shopping day of the year, you should be prepared.

Gone are the days of sleeping in and casually wandering your local mall on this day. Instead, it's common to find people who wake up at the crack of dawn or even stay up all night after Thanksgiving in pursuit of the best deals. We're not saying you have to be one of them, but we will share the pieces of advice that everyone who's a die-hard Black Friday shopper will know. And, you guessed it, planning ahead is the biggest way to come out successful.

Curious to learn everything there is to know about prepping for Black Friday shopping? Keep reading to discover seven hacks and then shop pieces we recommend at the end.

1. Wake up early.



It should go without saying, but if you're heading out to score as many Black Friday deals as is humanly possible, you better not fall into a tryptophan-induced slumber. It seems no one sleeps in anymore after Thanksgiving (some even stay up all night), so get a leg up on the competition and set your alarm—early.

2. Strategize your plan of attack.

Unless you can magically split yourself into multiples, there's no way you'll make it every store, which is why we recommend planning ahead. Which places are running the most exciting sales? Which stores are you most likely to find the best deals? Consider these factors and make a list of all the places you want to hit. It even wouldn't hurt to make a map of where you're going and when.

Since you followed our advice from tip number two, you have a running list of your top brands and retailers to target during the Black Friday madness. Now, before you head out to the sales (you can do this right now), go to each brand's website and enroll in their email newsletters so you can capitalize on any VIP deals they're running for this "insider" list. And you'll get notifications directly to your inbox, so you'll be the first one in the know.

4. Keep a shopping list.



Just like keeping a list of your top brands and retailers you want to focus on shopping, you should keep a list of the actual items you're shopping for. Black Friday can be so overwhelming and stores will obviously try to inundate you with deals on deals, so stay focused by keeping key styles and item types in mind that you're shopping for. Not sure what should be on your list? We have a few ideas here.

5. Clip those coupons.

Yes, be that person who hoards a zillion coupons, at least when it comes to Black Friday shopping. Some might prove to be futile, but you never know which might come in handy until you have them all (neatly organized) in your wallet.

6. Check the return policy.



Don't get stuck regretting spontaneous purchases only to realize everything you bought was final sale. (You shouldn't find yourself in this scenario if you bought only the items on your shopping list, but alas.) Check the return policies before you purchase—either go online to find out or simply ask a store associate in person.

7. Create a budget—and stick with it.



Ready, set, happy shopping… but not before setting a budget for yourself. It's easy to go overboard when everything is on sale because you'll be easily convinced you're saving tons of money. Technically yes, but set a budget beforehand of the total amount you're willing to spend, that way when push comes to shove, you'll walk away feeling accomplished and not drained. Well, maybe you'll be drained a little physically, but hopefully not financially.

Shop everything on my Black Friday shopping list: