UNITED STATES—It is here people. The biggest shopping holiday of the year is upon us, no I’m not talking about Thanksgiving people, I am talking about Black Friday. For the second year in a row, Black Friday is actually transpiring on Black Friday people, the day after Thanksgiving. In years past, especially pre-COVID many retailers had their doors open on Thanksgiving Day. At first it was 11 p.m. that day that the doors would open, then it became 9 p.m., 8 p.m., 5 p.m., before you know it some places opened their doors at 2 p.m.

I know because I was one of the die-hards who waited in line with the bristling wind blowing and a coat and hat, hoping to score a major deal people. Yeah, there are plenty of people out there who think it is absolutely nuts to wait in lines to score deals, but to each is their own. For my family it is tradition, it was something we have done for as long as I can recall. My grandmother did it with her kids, my parents did it with us, and we are doing it with our kids.

I don’t think it is so much about getting a deal (trust me it doesn’t hurt to get items 50 percent off or more that never goes on sale), it is the ambiance. It is the notion of being around people and I will admit for the most part people are in a joyous and happy mood. It is a feeling that is difficult to describe in words if you have never partook in the experience. Now this is NOT to say that I haven’t run into some situations where people are complete assholes because I have seen it.

Look there is NO NEED to run into a store, up escalators and stairs to get pillows that are $5. Hello, those pillows are always $5. I recall one retailer that were offering items with rebates. People literally thought they were going to head to a register and get 10 pillows for $0. READ THE FINE PRINT PEOPLE! It is $10, its $0 after you complete the mail in rebate. In addition, there is a limit of 1 item per family. So many other people tried otherwise and they were looking like complete idiots and I loved every single second of it. Being ignorant or stupid doesn’t pay off in the long run.

Also people, Black Friday is like a shoppers’ delight, this is NOT the time to bring your children. Leave your kids at home if at all possible. If you’re not able to do that, I hate to say it, you shouldn’t be shopping. Why? You create a situation where kids are running amuck in the stores, kids are not being monitored and in some situations kids get lost. That is a parent’s absolute worst nightmare. Don’t indulge in that chaos if you do not have to.

Bring your patience people. You are going to wait in line and in 2021 perhaps more than ever before with COVID and concerned about the lines to get into a store and then waiting in another line to check out. However, guess what: limiting the number of people in a store actually helps speed up the checkout process. Why? You have more room to move around and look at items. In addition, the checkout process has been much faster in my opinion.

Make a plan people. Understand the early bird gets the worm. Items will be in limited stock, and with chain supply shortages, it will be more notable in 2021. Know which stores you want to hit, what times they open and what items you’re hoping to score. Let this be an important rule: just because it is on sale does NOT mean you have to purchase it. If it is an item you do not want or needs, don’t pick it up. Otherwise, it’ll be sitting in your closet or someone just collecting dust and taking up space.

Be aware of your budget. Make a budget and stick to it America. Don’t feel the need to spend more than you can afford. I mean that. You might want to leave the credit card at home or it could get you in serious trouble people and then what? You’ll be crying sick when you get that credit card statement in December or January and you see how much you spent and how much debt you have accumulated. Yes Xmas is all about giving, but it’s not about going bankrupt. You can ONLY do so much so don’t feel compelled to do more than what your budget allows.

You might think this is crazy, but use cash. You will be way more aware of what you’re spending and you’ll be cautious about how you spend it at the same time. With plastic we tend to be more frivolous, but with cash we like to hold onto it like gold and that can curb unnecessary spending. With that said, enjoy Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and the weekend right after Thanksgiving that kicks off the official holiday shopping season. The year 2020 was brutal for many Americans, for 2021 it’s still brutal for some, but there is still some hope out there and retailers are offering some bargains that will help you get the perfect gift without breaking the bank people.

Written By Zoe Mitchell