Smart shopping tips for Black Friday

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Even though it's the season for giving gifts, it may sometimes feel like the only gift you need is an extra check to pay for it all.

But, with a little strategic planning, you can make your gift-giving dollars go further, and still make sure everyone on your list still has a happy holiday.

“The more you plan, the more you save,” says Steve Economides.

Steve and Annette Economides head up America's self-proclaimed "cheapest family," and they say despite the crowds and the confusion, if you really want to find the deals, plan on doing some Black Friday shopping.

“Everything is on sale, from housewares to techno stuff to clothing,” says Annette. But that does not mean just hitting stores willy-nilly.

"We say go online first, because ads are going to be leaked to the Black Friday websites," says Steve. We like bfads.net. That is our favorite site because you go through the ads and you can make a shopping list there.

And, they say, a list is essential, whether you are doing it online or on paper. Before you shop, know what you want to spend on every person, focus on meeting that goal instead of thinking you need a specific present.

“We usually ask our kids to write a list with a variety of things,” Annette says. “So, if for some reason there is something we can't get a good deal on, we know there are so many other things on their list they are going to be happy and thrilled with at Christmas.”  

“So if we know we have that all budgeted out, we are not as likely to put Christmas on a credit card and then have to pay for it for months afterwards," she continues.

As for the day of shopping, they say pick the stores that may have limited quantities or the best variety first. Another tip? Go in pairs. “One person stays with the cart, the other person goes and grabs things," advises Steve.

Another tip from Annette?" Places like Kohls, where all they really have are small bags or carts, if you are buying a lot of stuff, bring your own dolly with you.”

Also use ad match to work the system. If one store puts something on sale but with limited quantities, look for a store where it’s not on sale, but they will match the price.

And wherever you shop, look carefully, Annette warns. “Look for the specific thing that is listed on sale, because very often that same store will have something in a like-colored box but is not the thing on sale.”

Also, remember, the deals don't always end Friday. "If you are shopping catalogues look for those specials on Cyber Monday.”

And finally, don't let all those low prices distract you from why you are really there, “Don't ever buy something because it is a deal, because Black Friday is full of deals.  Buy it because you think there is somebody that will benefit from this present."

Steve and Annette also tell us to check eBay and Craigslist. Those sites are especially good if you are looking for collectible or unusual items.

And finally, they say, look for gifts you can give later in the year. On Black Friday, small appliances are always on sale, and can make great wedding presents or housewarming gifts later.

The Economides have more tips and information on an upcoming financial hope workshop at  http://www.moneysmartfamily.com/