Friends, the busiest day of the shopping season is upon us. I just love the thrill of scouring over the ads, planning my shopping route and getting out bright an early to get the Early Bird deals. Whether you are a Black Friday shopper or not, it is good to plan ahead before heading out to do your holiday shopping. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to consider:

Most of the Early Bird specials on Friday and Saturday go until 1 pm. You need to decide which stores to stop at first. Also, make note of what time each store opens up. If you are looking for an item that is high in demand, you will need to arrive an hour or two before the store opens; I kid you not!

Give yourself time, the checkout lanes can be long.

Stay on target; do not fall prey to impulse buying just because something is a good price. If you do, make sure you can return it once you get it home.

Divide and conquer if your list is long and you fear you may not get to all of your stores. I will sometimes send my husband out separately with one list while I head the other direction.

Take the ads with you. If you are shopping at a store that offers lowest price guarantees (like Walmart and Lowe's), show them the ad and take advantage of the store's offer.

Friends, the busiest day of the shopping season is upon us. I just love the thrill of scouring over the ads, planning my shopping route and getting out bright an early to get the Early Bird deals. Whether you are a Black Friday shopper or not, it is good to plan ahead before heading out to do your holiday shopping. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to consider:

Most of the Early Bird specials on Friday and Saturday go until 1 pm. You need to decide which stores to stop at first. Also, make note of what time each store opens up. If you are looking for an item that is high in demand, you will need to arrive an hour or two before the store opens; I kid you not!

Give yourself time, the checkout lanes can be long.

Stay on target; do not fall prey to impulse buying just because something is a good price. If you do, make sure you can return it once you get it home.

Divide and conquer if your list is long and you fear you may not get to all of your stores. I will sometimes send my husband out separately with one list while I head the other direction.

Take the ads with you. If you are shopping at a store that offers lowest price guarantees (like Walmart and Lowe’s), show them the ad and take advantage of the store’s offer.

Make a list that covers the following: *Who you need gifts for. * What you're planning to buy. * Specific sizes, color preferences, and the like for individuals on your list. * How much you can afford to spend per person. * How much you can afford to spend overall. * Be sure to leave "room" in your budget for unexpected deals while you're out shopping.

After pouring over the ads and noting the items you intend on getting, cross-reference the information for each online. A good place to do this is http://shopping.cazoodle.com . This is one way to help insure you are truly getting a great deal. If you don't, it's so easy to get swept away in the excitement and spend too much. For now, happy shopping!

Laurie, TheBag Lady