Black Friday -- are you ready?

by Julie Snyder

Are you ready for Black Friday?November brings family gatherings with turkey or ham and a special treat for some of us -- Black Friday!

While some folks spend the day after Thanksgiving worrying about what to do with the leftover turkey, the courageous ones head out scouring for bargains. They're hoping they can get a jump on their holiday shopping while saving a buck or two.

But these aren't just any bargains -- no, these bargains have been planned, with road maps to each store, times sales begin, comparison lists and best of all tag teams of friends!

Get ready...get set...shop!

Watch for "leaked" ads

Get those ads and start those lists! The sooner you know what you're going for, the faster your list can grow for each specific store. Ideally, far before Thanksgiving you'll know what each person on your list needs -- and where you can find it.

Scan those Black Friday (and in some places Black Thursday) ads as soon as possible. Get on mailing lists. Google for Black Friday websites that list leaked ads. You might even catch some as early as August or September.

It's said to irritate the stores, but in truth, these ads send a lot of business their way.

Prepare for your shopping experience

It's all about tactics. Your planning must begin as soon as possible. If you're new to the phenomenon, then find someone who participates every year and tag team.

Tag team: As crowded as the stores will be, it's easier and more effective for one person to seek out an item or items and the other to stay with the cart.

Many times carts are hard to come by too, so hold onto the one you have! Trade off so you spend equal time on the floor.

Second chance: If you don't get your hands on a treasured item at first, stick around. After the initial rush of digging through the stacks of merchandise ends, wander around. You'll find items laying everywhere in the store. One of them might be "it."

Some people must like the thrill of grabbing it, because later they will lay it down.

Compare, compare, compare: Always have a list and comparison shopping. Many store's prices will only vary by a few dollars so it may be better to go ahead and pay a bit extra for an item instead of driving across town to save a buck.

Check with friends because they may be heading to that store and can pick up the item you need.

Get an app! This year, your smart phone can work for you. You can download apps such as Dealnews or tgi Black Friday on your smart phone to follow all the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.

One app even gives you a running update on any new sale that starts during that time or gives you a heads up if a store extends the hours of their early bird sales.

Get ready...get set...and most of all have fun. Grab those bargains and don't get hurt. Happy shopping!

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.