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It’s that time of year again, folks. No, not the holidays — well, yes, but no — it’s time for American Thanksgiving sales, holiday sales and eventually Boxing Day sales. Now before you go full-on shopaholic (oh, great movie!) there’s some prep you need to do. Yes, shopping is fun, but it requires determination, skill, self-restraint and research to get it done properly (i.e. getting everything you need without having to take out another mortgage).

So here are the dos and don’ts you should abide by if you want to own these sales. You’re here to own these sales, not the other way around. You’ve got this. We believe in you.

DO start with a comprehensive list

Before you even start looking at sales, make a list of what you want to get out of them. Do you want to get Christmas gifts? Are you looking for a new laptop or TV? Do the kids need new bedding? Make a full list of the things you want to get on the day. Nothing is too small for the list. Do you need stocking-stuffers? Write ’em down. These sales aren’t around every day (that’s the point), you don’t want to forget anything.

DO think ahead

Don’t just think about the things you need right now. Black Friday is perfectly placed in the year (thanks, pilgrims) for it to be the best time to do holiday shopping. Look beyond the next two months though, too. Are there January or February birthdays you need to buy for? Is your coffee maker on its last legs? Think about the things you might have to replace or buy in the next few months. These might be the best deals you’ll see for a year.

DO research the week before

Thank goodness the internet exists. Companies want to get you hyped for their sales so they often “leak” them the week before they start. Shop around different stores’ websites so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal out there. Also, make sure you know exactly what you want. Know brand, model and style so you don’t have to waste time during the sale making decisions.

Be sure to check WHEN sales start, too. Some start on American Thanksgiving, some start a week before. Some go all weekend, some are only a few hours. Don’t miss your sale.

DO set a budget

And stick to it. Once you have your list and your research, you should have an idea of how much everything is going to cost. You might need to be mentally prepared to let some items go if the sales don’t pan out the way you think they will (hey, it happens). See if there is wiggle room in your budget to accommodate little surprises that might pop up.

DON’T plan to use credit if you don’t have to

You’re more likely to stick to a budget if you know you’re spending your own money. It can be easy to just click online and spend from your credit card, but sales can quickly become meaningless if you rack up the same amount you saved in interest on your credit card bill. If you can’t afford the item, maybe now isn’t the time to buy it. Don’t let the hype of Black Friday convince you to spend money you don’t have.

DON’T fall for sales that aren’t sales

Corporations are sneaky. They like to pretend that they’re on your side when it comes to sales, but they really just want your money (sorry). Sometimes, to convince you that you’re saving a fortune on something, stores will elevate their “before” prices to make their deals seem even better. You might be saving significantly less than advertisements claim. That’s why doing your research is so crucial. Show those corporate villains that they can’t mess with you.

DON’T go unprepared for a long day

If you’re going to go out to the stores on Black Friday (good luck!) you gotta commit. Wear comfortable shoes, leave your coat in the car, bring a water bottle and DON’T FORGET YOUR LIST. Get out early and mentally prepare yourself for a long day full of patience. Seriously, be ready to be patient and understanding with everyone. Losing your temper or getting frazzled will just hurt you. Cut everyone — retail workers, other shoppers, your kids — a break today.

DON’T make spur of the moment purchases

“Oh look! iPads are 30 per cent off!” NO. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean that you’re saving money by buying it. If you weren’t planning on getting an iPad, one that’s on sale is still more than you should pay for it. Don’t ruin all the savings you’re getting on things that are on your list by buying things that aren’t. Be strong.

Good luck, friends. May the fairies of frugality guide you.

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