Top Black Friday shopping tips

-- Make a list and stick to it

If you really want to save money, make a list of exactly what you need. Every time you get distracted by a fabulous discount on something you've got no use for, you're wasting valuable shopping time. Sure, you save money -- on something you never needed in the first place.

-- Throw out all your old shopping strategies

The sales are already on. Black Friday lasts the whole weekend now and pretty much all the way through to Christmas. The Internet has brought us a completely new way to find the best deals on everything we need. So before you chug a vat of coffee to stay up and shop the midnight Black Friday sales, make sure you know all of your options. You can probably find the same great deals online.

-- Get hip to shipping

Before you complete your order, think about where those online gifts you're buying are going to end up. If you're shopping for your parents and heading to their house on Christmas day, ship the presents direct. Most sites offer inexpensive gift wrapping options, the delivery companies really step up their game this time of year, and bottom line -- you won't have to worry about hauling bulky gifts onto the plane.

-- Get organized

Make sure all of your coupons are lined up and ready to go. And take some "green" along. When the credit card system goes down and the mall ATM runs out of money, cash will be king!

-- Take a buddy

Of course, it's fun to shop with friends and family, but we're being practical here: When you shop together, you can split up and each go grab a bargain in a different part of the store. Just make sure you all have cell phones, so you can coordinate. (Smartphones are better because they let you use apps to check pricing and deals in competing stores throughout the day.)

-- Research the doorbusters

If you're going after the biggest and the best deals -- the doorbusters, as they're called -- make sure you do your homework. Check the leaked ads, as they'll often tell you how many of each item will be in the store. You should also find out in advance how each retailer allocates its doorbusters to the line outside the store -- sometimes by ticket, sometimes at random, and sometimes (worst of all) by just letting it be a free-for-all when the store open.

-- Dress for success

Sounds crazy, but what you wear will affect your shopping performance. You're going to be on your feet all day, so comfortable shoes are essential -- and dress in layers.

-- Don't be a basket case

You need flexibility and mobility to get from department to department as fast as you can. Consider bringing along a few big reusable shopping bags. If your first purchase is something big, have a plan for what you're going to do with it (i.e. have someone carry it out to the parking lot or arrange to pick it up later).

-- Ask questions and bring snacks

The busiest shopping days of the year can also be some of the most stressful. Only the rookies end up in the food court during the madness, so bring your own. A bite of something sweet and a sip of juice might turn out to be all that stands between you and another couple of hours of bargain hunting.

Taken from