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There are two ways to look at Black Friday: As a consumerist nightmare that fills you with horror, or as an opportunity to get some of the best deals of the year and get your Christmas shopping done early for a bargain. If you’re looking to get in on the deals but aren’t looking forward to the experience, here’s how to make it as painless as possible.

Look through flyers ahead of time. You can get a good grasp of what you might be interested in and which stores you might want to hit up by browsing the flyers to see what deals are dropping and where. Don’t forget to compare prices so you ensure you’re going to the store with the best deal possible.

Have a game plan. This begins with browsing the papers, but it doesn’t end there. Once you have an idea of what stores and items you’re interested in, you have to figure out priorities. Lineups start early in the morning hours and items sell out fast. Are you willing to completely forego one store to camp out at another? Is it better to go to the store with the slightly higher price as the competition will be lower there? Do you have back-up items you want to search for if the big-ticket item is sold out before you get to it? Figuring these things out ahead of time will save stress when the day comes. 

Schedule your day. All that planning and research has led you here. Now’s the time to pop timing into your calendar. If you’re planning to camp out at a certain store, schedule it in. If you are giving yourself a quick 10 minutes at each store so you can hit up as many as possible, schedule it as well so your phone will notify you when it’s time to start moving.

Pack all the supplies you’ll need to survive. We’ve all seen videos of scary Black Friday experiences with crowds stomping on people to get to the deals, so be sure to dress in your best gear to not only avoid the elements if you do plan to line up, but survive the crowd rush. Strong boots will protect your feet from any potential toe stepping. Don’t forget a raincoat or umbrella, a blanket, water and snacks.

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