Black Friday Shopping Tips (Online and In Store)

Well the big day is fast approaching and I know many of you are eagerly awaiting all the awesome Black Friday deals.

I was never much of a Black Friday shopper before I started My Frugal Adventures.  There are a few little tricks I have learned over the past few years of blogging that I wanted to pass along to you.

Click below to see my Black Friday shopping tips.

I know some of you are very savvy Black Friday shoppers.  You have your routine down and you are ready for action.  There are many of you however that might not even know what Black Friday is, so here are some tips I have for you.

First Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving each year- it is the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Usually it is the busiest day of the year for retailers.

Now Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday, which is the Monday right after Thanksgiving.  On Cyber Monday we supposedly see tons of great online deals.

This is just my opinion (therefore worth the price you paid) and what I have found:

  • The best deals start early online.  Last year almost all the Black Friday deals broke online on Wednesday night or Thursday night.  This year we are already seeing fantastic online deals.
  • Last year just about every deal advertised in Black Friday ads for the major retailers was also available online.  The great news is you didn’t have any fuss but the stinker was the hot items did sell out fast.
  • Cyber Monday usually disappoints me.  Every year I haven’t been too excited- if you are waiting to do the bulk of your shopping online on Monday you will probably have already missed the best online sales.


1. Be prepared.  This is not really the time for wandering around.  You really want to be prepared with a list of exactly what you want and in some cases you might want to map out the store in advance (especially at Walmart- they have maps available already).  Some stores put stuff in crazy places- like Target has movie displays set up in the clothing department.

2. Prioritize. If you have a long list of items you might want to prioritize the order you grab things.  One year I went to Walmart and the one thing I wanted to most was at the back of the store.  I grabbed it last thinking it made sense to go in order and guess what?  The thing I wanted most was almost entirely gone in the 20 min it took me to get through the store.  If you go with friends you might try to divide and conquer.  Each person is assigned a department and they are in charge of grabbing the items for everyone.

3. Get your rest and pack your snacks.  That sounds silly but you need to be alert and bring your patience to Black Friday.  You might try to get to bed very early the night before and I recommend packing your coffee and snacks.  There are lines everywhere and the last thing you want to do is wait 15 minutes at Starbucks while everyone else is snapping up the items you wanted.  These stores get super hot and stuffy so bottled water is not a bad idea.

4. Keep to your budget!  It is so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of people grabbing all sorts of stuff.  Some people recommend bringing a set amount of cash with you to the store.  I am always scared I will lose receipts so I pay with a debit card, but you might want to keep a running total of what you have spent.  Once the budget is gone it is time to pack it in.

5. Easy layers are a must.  In my experience it is freezing cold outside and then in the stores it can be boiling hot.  Wearing layers that can be easily removed is much better than lugging around a huge coat on top of everything else in the store.

As I mentioned, I did go Black Friday shopping once at the wee hours of the morning. I found it to be a horrible experience I will never repeat but I know a lot of you really enjoy this day so to each his own. One little note is that even if you are up super early please be careful. I went to Walmart one year and it was still pitch black outside and I had to park really far into the parking lot next to a dumpster. You want to be alert at all times and make sure you are putting all those packages in the trunk and not out in plain sight as you pop from store to store!


The one thing I get asked over and over is “will xyz item be available online” which is usually followed by “what time does it go on sale?”

The answer is I really don’t know.  Most likely the items you see in ads will be available but the really hot items (electronics, super hot toys, Dyson vacuums etc…) will sell out fast.  You want to be ready to buy and yup that most likely means a late night or a super early morning.  I am on the West Coast so many of these sales will start at 9pm PST for me (midnight for the East Coast) so that works out great for some of us.

1. Get Ready.  As I mentioned before most deals start early.  We are already seeing incredible prices (for example the Leappad for $6 less than Black Friday price).  I love the lightning deals from Amazon and I check them every morning- you can just stop off here and I will have reminders and highlights for you all in one spot very first thing.  Last year Thanksgiving Day was absolutely nuts- if you can possibly pop in to check on me on Wed and Thursday a few times you might get lucky and grab what you need.

2. Prioritize.  Usually the ads will start popping up online at once.  You might jot down your list and prioritize what is most important to you.  If you want a TV from Walmart and a hot toy from Toys R Us- well those deals might come up at the same time so you want to decide which is more important.

3. Cash back and coupon codes.  This is another benefit to shopping online.  You can use cash back sites and look for coupon codes.  I post as many as I can find of course and you can always check the comments on posts because often times readers will chime in with what they find.  One quick little tip- if you see a super hot deal my recommendation is to just buy the item.  Sadly over the weekend a $99 item was on sale for $39- some readers were looking for coupon codes and were trying to find the best cash back site and the item sold out.  The cash back on that offer was $.39.  So in trying to save an extra $.39 several people missed out on saving $60 by not  just buying the deal immediately.

(If you are not a member of Ebates you might register now and you can get a free $10 gift card to Target or Walmart.  When you want to shop, just type in Ebates first, type in the name of the store, click to shop as usual.  Once you spend $25 or more on an online purchase, your free gift card is mailed to you.)

4. Plan ahead for shipping.  Depending on the store you might start thinking now about the shipping policies.  I know for example that I have Prime so anything I want to order from Amazon will ship free.  I also have a Target red card (debit card) so I know anything I want from Target will ship free.  Most of the bigger ticket items from the big retailers will ship free but if you are paying shipping on every $5 DVD from Amazon it can add up.  You might consider registering for the monthly Prime membership, if you plan to shop at Toys R Us it looks like the free Shoprunner membership is available.

5. Save those receipts. Some people are gun shy about buying because they don’t know if a better deal will come along.  If you are shopping at stores like Target, Walmart, Toys R Us etc… you can always buy online and return most items in store if a better deal does come along.  I actually tape the receipt or packing list to the item until I am ready to wrap it up.  If I do need to exchange or return it is all ready to go.


So those are just a few of the Black Friday Shopping tips I have. What are some other tips you guys have for tackling the big day?


  1. Pam says

    Thank you for your post. I have not Black Friday shopped before (exept CVS last year), so I am pretty clueless. My hubby wants a TV from Sears and they say in the ad that they guarantee 4 per store and they hand out electronics tickets 2 hours early? Can you elaborate on how they do this? Thank you so much!

  2. Jasmin says

    I wasn’t a Black Friday shopper until I discovered My Frugal Adventure :), (that was 4 years ago). Thanks Charlene!

  3. cheryl says

    @pam -Electronic ticket is a ticket they give for a specific item usually with a barcode to the first so many people in line the yhave guranteed for so if sears says they have 4 then if you arent one of the first 4 people in line for that item then you won’t get it. People usually line up 4 to 5 hours early for such a thing. At walmart , toys r us ect. they have certain marked off ;ines around the store for different items this size tv in one place this game console in another and the item won’t go on sale till a specific time so people will line up hours ahead of time to gurantee they get a ticket for the item. no ticket no item but a few hundred dollars off a tv is worth waiting for a few hours for some. By doing this they prevent people running and trampling others to get to a section of the store where the items are. hope that helps

  4. Sharla says

    The women in my family are crazy black friday shoppers (like the old Target commercials with the lady working out for black friday). I used to go but since I got rammed into a million times at Target when I was pregnant with my twins it kinda lost it’s magic for me. I’ll be staying up late and keeping track of your blog 😉

  5. kim says

    I was a HUGE Black Friday shopper until I discovered you. Now I get such great deals every day I don’t need to go out on black Friday. Thanks!

  6. Charlene says

    Thanks Cheryl :). People are already camped out at Best Buy in my city. Crazy 😛

  7. Rachel says

    I agree with Kim. I shop year round now so I don’t have that much on my list at this point. Thanks for all your hard work, Charlene! We appreciate you so much.

  8. Shannon G says

    @Charlene Already camped out? That’s so wild! I don’t think I could ever do that… I was prepared to wait in line at Walmart to buy a TV this Black Friday, but I’ve since seen nearly identical deals for comparable TVs at other stores… If I can get my TV ahead of time, I’m going to skip the madness this year and stay home!

  9. Charlene says

    LOL- yup! In tents in the rain. Can you imagine the misery? And the stores are busy during the day! The guy said he was having cold chicken in his tent on Thanksgiving.

  10. Shannon G says

    I’ve done some crazy stuff in the name of a great deal, so I’ll be the last one to judge. But it’s makes me sad to think about people eating cold chicken in tents on Thanksgiving, waiting for something to go on sale. I could never give up days of my life to that. Especially if it meant spending Thanksgiving away from my family…

  11. Elizabeth says

    I luv saving as much as everyone else but blackfriday ugghh. Last year I was 8 months pregnant, had to go to work at 2AM and worked a 12hr shift. All for those crazies who can’t wait for cheap toasters, toys, good deals etc.( LOL )Don’t do Blackfriday that is only one day Do my frugal adventures instead. That’s 365 days of awesome deals,thanks charlene!

  12. Charlene says

    Elizabeth I should frame that :) So nice of you to say. I watched this video about 100x last year and it cracked me up every time.

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