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Five Tips for the Black Friday Shopper

It’s already looking a lot like Christmas.

is exactly one month before Christmas – and for most it marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

Here’s a list of tips for the world-weary bargain-hunter to live by, particularly on that Shopping Day of Days.

1. Do your research! Most places will release their Black Friday ads today. As a former retail employee, I know what Black Friday means for the stores: put a few items on a really great sale, and shave a few bucks off everything else – but make those small-ticket items look like an amazing deal. Make sure that sale is worth getting up at 3 a.m. and waiting in a 250-person line.

2. Avoid the gimmicks! Last year, someone I know -- he (or she) knows who they are -- waited in line for more than two hours at for a free Black Friday gift. Sure, they had to spend $100 to get it. And sure, they didn’t really need it. And maybe they never used it.

But it was free!

Don’t fall for tricks like free gifts; know what you’re after, and hone in on it like a laser-guided missile.

3. Bring the ads with you! This is another one of those retail-experience-guru tips. Some places offer the “lowest price guarantee,” which means that if their competitor is offering something for less, they’ll match it, but you have to be able to produce proof.

4. Clip the coupons! This one could also be titled, "Know the Store’s Policies!" You would think that on a day like Black Friday, stores would be stupid to let you add a coupon discount on top of their already-crazy savings.

5. Shop online first! Use the internet to compare prices, but you’d be surprised at how much shopping you can do on Amazon and other online retailers first. Some of these places already offer merchandise at sale prices that are lower than the stores… so figure out ahead of time if the deal is really worth the perilous trek!

Finally, don’t forget about Cyber Monday, which falls three days after Black Friday and you don’t have to leave the house and risk being trampled.

Happy bargain-hunting!

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