Big happenings this week with Walmart, Best Buy and Target all announcing their Black Friday ads. If you’d like to see most of them in one location, try this handy page from Nerd Wallet to help you get organized.

I have to admit, these ads did get me mapping out my list and adding up my own Christmas shopping budget. Then I felt overwhelmed about coming up with a strategy and wanted to crawl back in bed and not come out until January 2nd when all the chaos would be done.

Since that is NOT an option, I then decided to look at the Black Friday information and break it down into what is truly useful information and what is just plain background noise. Even better, here’s all that information in one handy set-up I like to call Black Friday Basics: What You Really Need To Know.

Black Friday Basics: the days & hours

Guess what? Black Friday is no longer just on Black Friday – surprise! Yep, now shoppers can get a jump start on their Black Friday shopping even earlier than 6 am Friday morning. Several retailers have given in and decided to open up on Thanksgiving night now. Bummer? Yes, but inevitably this was coming as more and more people are willing to leave their families in hopes of getting a jumpstart on Christmas.

Thanksgiving Night – 
5:00 PM – Best Buy, JC Penny, Belk, Toys’R’ US
6:00 PM –  Walmart, Target, Kohls, Sears, Michael’s, Sports Authority, Macy’s, Steinmart, Radio Shack

Friday Morning –      
6:00 AM  – Bass Pro Shop, Costco, Lowe’s
7:00 AM  –  pretty much everyone else!

Black Friday Basics: the very best deals

Bottom line for Black Friday is the deals. Sure, some shoppers enjoy the crowds and bragging rights of staying up all night in line, but most of us just want to get a really good price on the big ticket items. So, what are those items this year?

For the gamers

xBox – Everybody’s got big savings on xBox One bundles, offering the new console system and games for about $330. You just need to decide where to get it and if you prefer gift cards (Target) with that. And if you don’t need the new xBox One, you can score an older xBox for only $99 this year.
PS4 – PS4 has been outselling Xbox for awhile, but with all the deals for xBox, you’d better get ready for some nice bundles on PS4 too. Expect to still pay around $399.99, but you may get games and/or memberships with that price this go around.
Wii – Again, it’s all about the bundles with Wii bundles ringing in around $360.00 on Black Friday. But in most cases you walk out with 3 games as well, making it worth the time in line.

Apple products


Black Friday is also when Apple products are offered for the best prices possible, making them a popular Black Friday shopping choice.  With the new iPad mini2 and iPhone 6 as top items this year.
iPad mini – This new version of the iPad has everyone excited and with the Black Friday deals bringing the cost down to under $199, it’s bound to make many families happy come Christmas day.
iPhone – Expect to see iPhone offers with all the major phone retailers providing incentives for new contracts,  plus additional savings with gift cards and trade-ins and you can get yours for about $179.

Beats by Dre

Finally, the other most-talked about and most-desired Black Friday deal is for the high-end headphones everyone’s wearing. Most stores will have a sale that lets you grab these for under $100.

So, that’s the scoop on this year’s Black Friday. To sum it up, it’s starting earlier than ever with more savings than ever. It could be worth getting out this year just after the Thanksgiving meal. However, there’s also a lot to be said for online shopping and the comfort of your own home. If that’s the route you prefer, we suggest you start here and save money while still enjoying your time off!