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Black Friday Shopping Survival Guide

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Toys, televisions, laptops — oh, my! The flurry of Black Friday ads are enough to make your head spin. What to buy? Where to shop? And when to get in line? “I would suggest right after you eat your Thanksgiving dinner,” said Zachary, a Best Buy employee.

And even that could be too late depending on when your meal is served. People around the country — even in the Dallas area — are already camping out at Best Buy stores.

But are the deals good enough to wait in line for a whole week? Zachary thinks so. “We have a 32-inch LED [television] for $379. We’re gonna have a 50-inch LED [television] for $399,” said Zachary. The 50-inch flatscreen is one of five doorbusters that Best Buy is offering this year to attract big crowds. Once they run out, you’re out of luck, even if you’ve stood in line for hours — or days.

And this year, stores are opening even earlier to fight for your Black Friday money. Walmart and Toys R Us both open at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving followed by Target at 9:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Best Buy is opening at midnight.

Walmart is changing the game this year by offering a new twist with its doorbuster deals: an in-stock guarantee. But you have to be physically in the store between 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. to get one of the three doorbusters: an iPad, a blu-ray player or a 32-inch television.

Walmart, JCPenney and Fry’s Electronics are price matching. If you see a better deal somewhere else, just bring in the circular and the retailers will honor the lower price.

Another money saver: loyalty cards. A number of stores will give you extra discounts — on top of Black Friday deals — if you use your loyalty card.

Not convinced that you’re getting the best deal? That’s where RedLaser comes in. Shopping experts call it a must have mobile device app. Just scan a product’s barcode and the app will tell you which retailer has it, and at what price — both online and in-store.

Don’t want to deal with the Black Friday crowds? Consider early admission. At Sam’s Club, members are already getting Black Friday deals. It’s part of an invite-only event, so contact your store location for details. And at Walmart, if you sign up to receive emails from Walmart.com, ‘like’ Walmart on Facebook or download the Walmart mobile app, you can purchase items on Thanksgiving hours before they’re available in stores.

If you’re not into gadgets and gizmos, there are plenty of deals for the fashionista. The old standbys like Macy’s, Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic will open at midnight on Friday again this year. But some stores that you might not consider are entering the Black Friday ring for the first time, like Apricot Lane, Armani Exchange, Sephora and Dooney & Bourke. All are opening at midnight this year.

If you’re just not up for fighting rabid crowds, save money, time and energy by shopping online. A number of retailers (like Walmart and Target) are giving the same in-store deals to their online customers on Black Friday. Best Buy is also offering its Black Friday deals online, but said that you will have to brave the lines at stores if you want the doorbusters.

To get even bigger savings online, you can enter coupon codes from sites like RetailMeNot and CouponCabin.

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