11 Apps (and Websites) to Make the Most of Black Friday

Shopping Carts Ready for Black Friday

My husband, who has been known to fake the flu to avoid going shopping, has one shopping weakness: bargain hunting.

And nothing thrills bargain hunters quite like the words Black Friday. It's awash in the promise of incredible deals for those willing to wait in line (and only occasionally willing to shove other shoppers).

But over the years, it's become more and more difficult for ordinary individuals like my husband to find the promised deals without a major sacrifice of time.

Many Black Friday bargain hunters give up some of their Thanksgiving time with their family (not to mention their beauty sleep) in order to get in line early. Add to that the bad behavior we see every year on Black Friday, and it can be enough to send ordinary bargain hunters back to bed.

However, with new Black Friday apps and other technology, it is possible to take advantage of the great deals on Black Friday without feeling like you've sold your soul.

Here are some of the ways you can make the most of this non-holiday without having to go to crazy extremes:

Black Friday Apps

If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you can use various (free!) apps to help you plan out your shopping plan of attack.

TGI Black Friday

TGI Black Friday is pretty universally lauded as the best Black Friday app available. It can sort deals by both product and store, and it allows you to create a personalized shopping list. This is pretty essential. One of the best ways to keep Black Friday from getting the best of you (and your budget) is by making and sticking to a concise list of shopping items.

Shopular

Shopular is the perfect app to find coupons, savings, deals, and earn Cash Back with all of your favorite retailers. With this app, you will never miss a deal. You can find hundreds of saving opportunities at top stores. You may also be able to save time with coupons and promo codes on the go. It’s available to download on iTunes and Google Play.

The Coupons App

Link your store loyalty cards to save more with the Coupons App. Before you check off your shopping list, download the app (available for both Apple and Android) for hundreds of paperless coupons from top brands. Instant notifications alert you when your favorite stores release new offers. You can also compare local gas stations for the best price on gas around your community.

Santa’s Bag

Black Friday is the perfect day to check off items on your Christmas list. With Santa’s Bag, you can set and manage gift budgets for all of your loved ones. This iPhone app counts down the days until Christmas so you can stay on track with your holiday budget.

In addition, Santa's Bag indexes store coupons, holds your loyalty card information, and suggests related products at better prices. This is particularly helpful for Black Friday, as it’s likely many of the best deals are doorbusters that sell out quickly. Knowing what related products are available gives you ideas for what to do if your preferred deal is sold out. Unfortunately, Santa's Bag is not available for Android.

Black Friday Websites

No longer do we have to scan the circulars in the newspaper to find the best deals. Websites like BlackFriday.com and BFads.net offer an aggregate of all the “leaked” advertisements available.

Use these sites to decide how much you are willing to spend and where to find your chosen items. BFads also offers a great list of special store hours, making it easier to plan your specific shopping expeditions.

Dealnews offers coupons, deals, and ads for all of your shopping needs. Find deals on everything from clothes to electronics in one place. This site is also adding in a $1,000 giveaway on Black Friday!

But don't close the web browser yet. Coupon sites like RetailMeNot and Mommy Saves Big offer more opportunities for savings.

For both in-store and online shopping, printable coupons and coupon codes can help lower already tempting Black Friday prices.

Finally, if you know where you want to make your purchases, consider buying discounted gift cards from sites like CardCash, Gift Card Granny. You can use these discounted gift cards for the full amount when you go shopping on Black Friday.

Related: 45 Christmas Gift Ideas Under $45

Black Friday Social Media Exclusives

If you are not already following your favorite stores’ Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, then sign up! Stores are using social media this year to keep their fans updated on deals and store hours. In many cases, they are offering special deal information on their social networks before advertising elsewhere.

Make the Most of Your Black Friday Experience

Here are a few tips for safely navigating this year's Black Friday adventure:

Tip #1 – Stay Home: This is what I'll be doing. Kick back. Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast leftovers. Watch some football. Good times.

For you other suckers (just kidding), here's how to make the most of this crazy day:

Tip #2 – Don't Chase Deals: Decide what you need to buy before you even look at the ads. There's nothing wrong with getting the best possible price for something you really need and have been planning on. But make this list before you check out the ads. Once you see those deals you'll find all sorts of reasons to spend on things you had no intention of buying in the first place.

Tip #3 – Scour the Ads: Okay, now that you've listed out what it is that you need, or would like to shoot for, start looking through the Black Friday ads and websites to find the best deal on the item you want.

Where do you go for the Black Friday ads? BlackFriday.com has always been my favorite website for perusing the ads prior to Friday morning. A lot of the stores have already released their ads, so you can begin your search now.

Tip #4 – Plan Your Route: Once you have your items selected and know where the best deal is, strategically map out your route based on the amount of the item and discount, store opening times, door buster deals, and likelihood of the store selling out of your item.

Tip #5 – Use Even More Strategy: Work as a team with friends or family members to make sure you're separately in place to get the deals you want. Consider scouting out the stores the day before to locate where the item you want will be.

Tip #6 -Have Fun and Stay Away from Crazy Crowds: Get out there and have fun, sure. But no sale is worth getting trampled over. We hear stories about this every year. Don't be this year's victim to consumerism. Stay away from any unruly mobs.

Related: 20 Fantastic Financial Christmas Gift Ideas For Children

The Bottom Line on Black Friday Apps and Technology

In part, Black Friday becomes crazy is because people are glassy-eyed with fatigue and determined to find a deal at all costs.

A more civilized way to bargain hunt is to use the technology available and make all of your decisions ahead of time.

That means you won’t be tempted by low prices on items not on your list–and that you’ll have an idea of what your alternatives are if you miss out on any one particular deal.

With the judicious use of Black Friday apps and tech tools, my husband might even be able to coax me out of the house this year. I promise I won't shove anyone.

What's your favorite Black Friday hack?

Black Friday Tech

About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former English teacher and respected personal finance blogger. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her engineer husband and two high-energy little boys. She has written four books: The Five Years Before You Retire, Choose Your Retirement, Making Social Security Work For You, and End Financial Stress Now. Emily's thoughts on parenting and life in general are found at The SAHMnambulist.

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