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A Thrifty Mom’s best and worst nightmare

Black Friday can be the best time of the year for a Thrifty Mom; it can also be the worst.

In trying to keep track of all the deals this year, I quickly got overwhelmed. Being a bit of a perfectionist, it has been hard for me to come to this conclusion, and yet I must admit: I can’t do everything.

That said, I’ve decided to scale back what I offer you this year for Black Friday. There are so many resources out there that have the time to really do the research on what are the best deals being offered. So I’m going to point you to those resources, while offering my personal Top 5 for six select retailers.

But first, if you missed my special blog post on Friday detailing CVS’ amazing deals this week, no worries. Here is an updated PDF showing you the freebies, moneymakers and other deals for the four-day sale that began yesterday. You can get a total of $65 in freebies! I also added a page with the few deals that are notable for the second sale that runs Nov. 28-30.

Right: Here's my haul from Sunday's trip to CVS. All this cost me less than $2 after ExtraBucks!


On to the Black Friday resources.

I’ve found that the Brad’s Black Friday website is absolutely amazing because, well, it’s devoted to just Black Friday deals. The experts over there have compiled products guides for your top electronics (in the right menu bar) — including laptops, cameras and TVs. Each guide has a detailed list of all the items in the category for sale on Black Friday. At the top, the editors show their No. 1 top pick.

Brad’s Black Friday also compiled a list of the Top 25 overall deals being offered. The top three are electronics, but surprisingly at No. 4 is a Crock-Pot brand slow cooker. Check them all out here.

Another interesting article I found talks about five holiday shopping apps “you may as well download now.” The one that could be quite a timesaver is called ReturnGuru, which tracks all of your receipts in case of returns! There’s also an app for research, for budgeting and for delivery notifications. All but one are free.

Speaking of research, I can’t stress enough the importance of doing your research before you go out shopping. I was really upset this year when I discovered that the LeapFrog LeapPad 2 that I had put on layaway for $99.99 before Black Friday ads were released is going to be on sale for just $40 at many retailers! Fortunately, I did my research and realized that my particular model is actually the LeapPad 2 Power, which includes a rechargeable battery pack and extra game credits. The one that will be on sale doesn’t include that battery — and it retails for $28. In the end, if I were to buy the cheap LeapPad, a battery pack and the equivalent of games, I wouldn’t be saving any money at all.

My point is, KNOW YOUR STUFF. That HDTV may seem like a great deal, but check for reviews online. A lot of times those inexpensive TVs are off-brand, so the quality may not be as good. And make sure that nobody else is actually offering it for cheaper. Or that it’s actually on sale and not always at that price (which means you could avoid horrible lines in the stores).

But you know, you might be able to avoid lines anyway. This article talks about how many retailers are offering their deals online — many even before Black Friday. Target has said it’s offering “almost all” of its Black Friday deals online starting early Thanksgiving morning.

Finally, do you know what everyone on your list wants for the holidays this year? According to the National Retail Federation, these are the top toys for 2013. Interestingly, there are no “it” items this year. 

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Click the name below to see my Top 5 Black Friday deals for that retailer. I based my picks on price, popularity and items that I would personally buy.

Editor's note: Due to the holiday, there will be no Karn's matchup this week. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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