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How to Make the Most of Black Friday Shopping

By Dana George - Nov 24, 2020 at 6:45AM

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If Black Friday is an important part of your holiday ritual, here's how to stay safe and save money this year.

Woman carrying shopping bag labeled Black Friday through shopping mall.

Image source: Getty Images.

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For shopping enthusiasts, Black Friday is something of a national holiday; a major event sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you're excited to get your Black Friday adventure under way, we're here to help. We'll cover how to get the biggest bang for your buck and which major retailers offer curbside pickup. 

Make the most of your money

During the 1950s, Philadelphia police first used the term "Black Friday" to describe the mayhem that ensued as shoppers flooded into the city in search of bargains. Here's how you can save money this year.

Shop safely: COVID-19 cases are on the rise this holiday season, so consider doing your Black Friday shopping online. It's not worth risking your health to sniff out a bargain, so try to stay at least six feet away from other shoppers and wear a mask. 

Make a list: Just like Santa, your list should include everyone who's been nice this year. Heck, if you really love them, include a few from the naughty side of the ledger too. Next to each name, make a note of what you plan to purchase. 

Create a budget: Figure out how much you can afford to spend on gifts and divide it between the people on your list. Plan your purchases around that budget.

Follow your favorites: Retailers often post some of their best deals on social media. Follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to get exclusive access to deals you might otherwise miss. 

Do your homework: Check store circulars in the days before you shop (if you don't receive them in the mail, you can find them online). Hunt around and don't be fooled by the first great deal you come across. You may be able to find a better deal at another store. Once you discover the lowest price, note the store's name next to the item on your list as a reminder. 

Take advantage of price matching: Find out about your favorite retailer's price-matching policy. There's a good chance they'll be willing to match the lowest advertised price, just to keep you as a customer. 

Map your trip: Plan where you're going to shop before logging on or heading out. If your favorite retailer offers price matching, you may be able to knock out a large portion of your shopping list at one store. 

Look for discounted gift cards: Once you know where you'll be shopping, look for discounted gift cards for that retailer. Some websites like Raise or Cardpool offer gift cards at up to 35% off, which could save you money right off the bat. Be sure to read and understand the fine print.

Stick to your list: Whether you're shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store, don't get carried away by the holiday spirit. It doesn't make sense to save money on Black Friday deals if you go over budget or buy things you don't need. A list can help keep you on track. 

Avoid interest: Try not to rack up unnecessary debt this holiday season, whether on Black Friday or any other day. If you're unable to pay cash but your credit score is strong, use a card with a 0% promotional APR. You might also be able to earn rewards or cash back with a standard-rate card, just try to pay off your balance before you accrue any interest. 

Gift receipts: Ask for gift receipts and keep them in a safe spot until you know whether the recipients need to return or exchange their presents. 

Curbside pickup

If you're going a little stir crazy but don't want to risk going into a store, take advantage of curbside pickup. Place your gift orders online, drive through somewhere for a cup of coffee (or hot cocoa), tune your car stereo to holiday music, and turn it into an event. Here are some big-name retailers that make curbside pickup easy:

  • Best Buy: Some Best Buy locations offer curbside pickup in as little as one hour. Look for the "use curbside pickup" option when you place your order. 
  • GameStop: Do you have young (and not so young) kids in your life who would enjoy nothing more than a new video game? GameStop allows you to buy online and pick up the same day at the store's door.
  • Home Depot: Most orders are ready for pickup within a few hours of ordering. 
  • JCPenney: JCPenney also offers contact-free, same-day pickup. Once there, check in either through the JCPenney app or by calling the store. 
  • Kohl's: If you're serious about social distancing, Kohl's makes it easy to stay safe. Most orders are ready for pickup within two hours of ordering. 
  • Lowe's: Whether you're social distancing or aren't sure you can lift a heavy item in the store, curbside pickup through Lowe's is a great option. 
  • Macy's: Select Macy's locations offer curbside pickup, although the service is available on weekdays only.
  • Sam's Club: For a limited time, curbside pickup is free for all Sam's Club members. If your order contains 10 or fewer items, you may be able to pick it up the same day. 
  • Target: You'll need the Target mobile app on your smartphone to take advantage of its curbside pickup, but it's worth the trouble. Orders are often ready within a few hours. 
  • Walmart: Same-day pickup is available for online orders placed before 1 p.m. 

There's no getting around what an unusual year 2020 has been. Still, if traditions like Black Friday shopping are important to you, shop smart and leave some money in the bank.

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