Whether this is your first year Black Friday shopping or you’re a seasoned professional, going out into the crowds can be daunting. These tips will help the newest holiday shoppers get prepared and remind the veterans what they need to do before heading out to the mall.

In recent years, Black Friday sales have been starting much earlier. What started as an early Friday morning event now begins in the late afternoon on Thanksgiving, just after many families have finished eating their turkey and stuffing. Whether you go out on Thursday or wait until Friday, keep these Black Friday shopping tips in mind.

Here are 6 shopping tips to help you make the most of your Black Friday shopping this year.

1) Do Your Research

Retailers distribute their Black Friday advertisements the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Savvy shoppers scan these ads, comparing prices and planning a route. Many retailers offer great deals on televisions, laptops, and tablets. If you have other items on your shopping list, it might be beneficial to start your day searching for them instead of the electronics.

You don’t have to wait for the Sunday paper to find out about all the best Black Friday deals. Major retailers often post their upcoming deals on their social media pages. If you really want to buy something this holiday season, like the Facebook page of your favorite retailer. Full ads typically start to leak a couple of weeks before they are officially available. Searching the Internet for these ads can give you a head start on your Black Friday shopping.

In most cases, retailers only carry a few of the hottest items. If you really want one of them, you might have to skip Thanksgiving dinner and sit in front of the store. The discounts offered will likely determine how much company you’ll have. More experienced shoppers know whether to turn around and go home if the lines are too long early in the day. There’s no point in wasting time in a line when you could be somewhere else getting another great deal. Be aware of the stores that offer special deals to early birds. If you can get an extra discount on items you plan to buy anyway, it makes sense to wait in line.

2) Know the Store Policies

Many stores today offer price matching services. However, these policies might be suspended for Black Friday, so it’s important to check this in advance. You should also check the return policy for each store where you plan to shop. If you’ll be sending the gift to a loved one in another state, find out what the policy is if they need to exchange the item for a different size or color. Always get a receipt and a gift receipt if you’ll be giving your Black Friday purchases to friends and family member. They don’t need to know how much you paid for the item, but giving them a receipt will make returns easier if it doesn’t fit, they already have that item, or they just don’t like your gift.

3) Use Teamwork

With the sheer number of people on the road, in parking lots, and fighting for the best deals in stores, it’s virtually impossible to visit more than one or two locations. However, by working as a team and having each family member visit one or two stores, you’ll have a better chance of getting the items you really want at the discounts only offered on Black Friday.

4) Beware of Doorbusters

The $100 laptops and $200 50-inch televisions aren’t often worth the investment. These low price and cheaply-made items are designed to get you into the store. If you can afford the name-brand electronics that are also certain to be on sale on Black Friday, it’s better to invest in them than waste your money on door busters that may not last until the following holiday season. Disposable electronics certainly have their place and allow people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the technology to put these products in their home. However, it’s important to recognize these are not high-quality items. If you must buy them and the store offers an extended service plan, buy it.

5) Use Coupons

Digital coupons and promo codes are not just for online shopping. If a store offers a discount online, it might be available in the brick-and-mortar store as well. Write down these codes or save them in your phone so you’ll be able to access them when you get to the register. If there is an image of an actual coupon online, take a picture with your phone. The cashier may be able to scan it at the register and give you the discount.

6) Be Safe

There will be a lot of people out shopping on the morning of Black Friday. Keep your cash and credit cards close to your body. Women who don’t need to carry a purse should leave it at home. When leaving the store, hold your bags tightly and, when leaving, lock them securely in your trunk. Thieves who seek to steal from people who are in the holiday spirit and not paying attention to their surroundings will be watching you as you go to your car.

Enjoy Your Savings!

Black Friday can be a lot of fun if you are prepared. It’s even possible to get all of your holiday shopping done in one day if you plan your day appropriately and utilize the skills of each member of your family to scout deals and make purchases in various stores across town. Be sure to stick to a budget and you won’t regret your purchases when the bills arrive.