Column: Plan ahead and stay alive on Black Friday
Black Friday shopping can get a little hectic, so we have a few tips on how to help get through the day without injury. - photo by Nick Bowman

You’ve just spent an evening with friends and family. Turkey bones litter your kitchen and the entire pumpkin pie you’ve eaten is gathering around your midsection.

That can only mean one thing: It’s time to go shopping.

For some, Black Friday is an extension of the Thanksgiving holiday, where families all put on their coats and join each other in line at Best Buy to maybe land the latest deal and have some fun. For others, it’s a serious night, one that brings out the worst in people in a bid to save money.

From long lines to thrown elbows, it’s best to be prepared.

Decide what you want ahead of time

Don’t go into your Black Friday shopping endeavor thinking you can just wing it — that’s a rookie mistake that will leave you empty handed or worse, getting trampled by midnight Walmart shoppers. No one wants to die in Walmart.

Figure out why you’re shopping and what you hope to accomplish. Do you want a new television? Get to Best Buy three hours before it opens. Management usually passes out a pass for big-ticket items to those in line, so if you have that paper you’ll get the prize.

You’ll know where to go first if you know what you want. Prioritize your wants in case you have to make a sacrifice and miss out on a sale.

Let’s be real, the new television is always better than the sweater.

Map out your adventure

Speaking of Best Buy, big box stores are almost always open earlier than malls, and their deals usually don’t last as long either. Hit those first. After that, hit up the mall. Department stores like Macy’s usually run their sales for most of the morning, so you’ll have time to get there without sacrificing a good deal somewhere else.  

Make sure you schedule in a time to eat during all the hustle and bustle. The day is already stressful enough without those around you worrying that you’ll snap in a hangry rage because you really need a sandwich instead of that new iPhone. Don’t end up as a GIF on Twitter because there’s a video of you raging out on some displays after your blood sugar tanks.

There will be no parking anywhere, even in large places like the Mall of Georgia or the North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville. Pick a designated driver who will drop the rest of you off out front while they prowl the parking lot for a spot. Get the driver’s list and shop for them unless you want to get left in the lot.

It’s all about working together. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Figure out your finances

Shopping for the holidays can get expensive — it’s one of the main reasons everyone is out at midnight trying to save money on gifts for people they could barely tolerate at dinner a few hours before.

One of the important things to remember for Black Friday is it’s not saving money if you’re going into debt to buy it. Set a budget of what you think you can spend, and cut that by 20 percent. Stick with your budget, no matter how much you might want something.

It’s also a good idea to let your bank know you’re about to go to town with your American Express card. That way, they don’t flag anything as suspicious once you start racking up purchases throughout the night. Make sure to check all of your accounts for any fraudulent activity once you’re done shopping.

There are thousands of people out shopping throughout the day. Don't lose your wallet and pay for their television.

Remember what’s important

While Black Friday brings out the materialistic side in all of us, it’s important to remember how lucky we are to be able to take a day to just go shopping for gifts for the people we love (most of the time). In the post-Thanksgiving fog and the red mist of Black Friday rage-shopping, don’t lose that mindset.

There are going to be people out shopping who get super selfish and forget what it’s all about. Those are garbage people. Also, don’t be the person who holds up the line paying for big-ticket items with small bills or a check.

That’s unforgivable.

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