Black Friday. The name alone might make some of you cringe: The crowds, the long lines, the early morning hours.
Not so with Neva Acevedo. For this mom of two, Black Friday shopping is a sport. And after more than two decades of post-Turkey Day shopping sprees, Acevedo’s got it down to a science: She goes in with a plan and gets everything on her list in under 12 hours.
Check out her tips for prioritizing, staying organized, and giving back along the way.
HLN: When do you start planning your Black Friday outings?
Neva Acevedo: After our Thanksgiving dinner, my daughters and I go through the paper to see what’s advertised and start making a list of what we want.
HLN: What time do you go to bed on Thursday to get up for the shopping spree?
NA: There is no going to bed anymore on Thursday night! I can maybe get a nap in on Thursday afternoon, but even that doesn’t usually happen. Thanksgiving Day is too crazy for us and we’ve been out at stores at midnight before.
HLN: Do you usually head to the stores before they open and wait in line?
NA: It depends on how badly I want the item and how bad the weather is. Usually, we get there about 45 minutes ahead of the store opening. We stand in line for the first store -- it has to be for something I really want -- but try to stagger the rest.
HLN: Have you ever gotten caught up in a mob of people rushing into a store on Black Friday?
NA: Maybe once at a Toys"R"Us, when the kids were little and everyone was crazy for Furbies!
HLN: What kinds of items do you usually buy on Black Friday?
NA: I look for stuff I want or need as Christmas gifts and birthday presents for my daughters, but if I see an amazing deal, I’ll get it. There are usually great deals on electronics and video games, and my husband loves kitchen gadgets, so one year we got him a KitchenAid stand mixer for a really good price. We also usually “adopt a family:” I get whatever’s on their list, like clothing or toys for the kids.
HLN: How much money do you usually spend on Black Friday?
NA: Depending on what I’m getting, probably around $500. That’s if I’m not getting a super big-ticket item. The most I’ve ever spend was maybe $750-800. We bought a computer that year.
HLN: Do you usually set a budget for yourself?
NA: I used to in the past. I had to pay for everything in cash -- there were no credit cards -- so once the money was gone, it was gone. Now, I’m a little more lenient and sometimes, the price will sway me. The best buy is the thing you really didn’t know you needed until it was a good price!
HLN: What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten on something?
NA: Last year, they had a great deal on these tall patio heaters. We’ve been looking at them for awhile, but they’re normally $200 each and on Black Friday, they were only $50! They were at a different place where I had originally planned to go first, so I asked my husband to get them. That was a great bargain.
HLN: Do your husband and daughters usually come shopping with you?
NA: It’s only happened a few times that I sent him to a store to get that one item I couldn’t. And now that they’re older, the girls join me, but I will say it’s harder now that they’re with me. It’s harder to surprise them come Christmas!
HLN: What’s your strategy for Black Friday shopping?
NA: We try to stay organized: Get in and out, not too much browsing. We try to stagger store opening times and prioritize. I think about what I really want, as well as what others will rush in for. Once in the store, we split up if there’s more than one item to get. Sometimes, one of us will stand in line while the rest of us run around the store trying to get stuff. The checkout lines can get really crazy -- it takes so long to check out! But we usually start at midnight and are home by noon.
HLN: When did your Black Friday shopping tradition start?
NA: When my elder daughter was 2, we wanted to get her an electronic rocking horse. We lived in North Carolina then and went to Rose’s (kind of like a Kmart), which was opening on Thanksgiving Day. We got the rocking horse for 60% off! I thought, “Wow, we couldn’t have gotten it without that!” So I wondered if other stores have similar sales and started looking at ads and pricing stuff out ever since.
HLN: What’s the best part of Black Friday for you?
NA: The thrill of the hunt. It’s the thrill of finding that one item you can’t wait to see them open on Christmas Day. We have this tradition of the last gift: It’s the last one they can open on Christmas. It’s their biggest gift and it’s usually from Black Friday.