By UnigoCollege students don’t often have a lot of discretionary income, so they have to get creative when it comes to making ends meet. This may include stopping by an engineering club meeting (even though they’re English or art majors) to score some free food, pooling resources with their roommates, or utilizing student discounts at area retailers. It should be no surprise then that many look forward to Black Friday when they can shop till they drop and grab some amazing deals for next to nothing. But it’s not a simple as heading out to their favorite stores with a few dollars in their pocket; there is actually an art to shopping on Black Friday. If you’re a college student and want to get the best deals this week, I offer these tips. 1. Set a Budget It’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment and spend more money than expected. Plan ahead and determine how much you have (or are willing to spend) before leaving for the stores. If necessary, take out any credit cards you may have, as you may be tempted to use them and this could lead to serious problems when the bill comes due. Once you reach your limit, head back to campus (or wherever you are staying for the holiday) and call it a day. 2. Have a Plan Don’t simply head out to the stores hoping to score a great deal. Many retailers are offering similar items, but some have more quantities than others. Review Black Friday sale fliers to see who has the best prices and how those deals will be disbursed. If you know you want a specific item, make that your first stop. Keep in mind that many stores now pass out tickets to shoppers, so be prepared to stand in line for several hours, if you want something that is in high demand, such as televisions or computers. 3. Get Organized Once you have found your deals, be sure to carry a binder with all the sales fliers since many stores now match competitor prices. Next, start clipping coupons that give you additional money off your items, and be sure to browse the store’s online coupons, too. You can often stack a manufacturer’s coupon with the store coupon for bonus savings. Finally, don’t forget to check out some of the free shopping apps available, as these will help you compare prices and stay on budget. 4. Recruit Help Black Friday sales are a breed apart from other sales. People can be rude and even get aggressive, all in the name of grabbing the best deals. To make the day more enjoyable, surround yourself with friends and make a game of it. Create a scavenger shopping list and see who can get the best prices or score the most items. It also makes the time standing in lines go by faster, especially after your smartphone battery dies. 5. Dress Appropriately Just like ogres, Black Friday shoppers should have layers. The weather outside might be frightful, but the stores could be hotter than you know what. Wearing a few light shirts and a jacket will ensure you are prepared for anything, warm or cold. It’s also not a bad idea to carry some snacks or bottled water with you, as it may be a while before you can stop for something to eat. Just be sure you don’t go overboard on the H2O, unless you have someone to save your spot in line! This year, the stores are opening even earlier than ever before, including several on Thanksgiving Day. Students who want to get in line early may have to move up their holiday meal or forego spending the day with family, unless they make shopping a family affair. If this is not your idea of holiday fun, you’ll be happy to know that many retailers are offering similar deals online throughout the weekend and on Cyber Monday, which means you can still score some bargains from the comfort of your dorm room or mom’s couch. Personally, I think I’ll skip the lines and enjoy the holiday at home this year.