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Tips for Black Friday shopping veteran
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Savvy shopper Rowena Tebaldi of Lathrop has learned to crunch the numbers and set priorities while shopping for the holidays. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The 209

Rowena Tebaldi is no stranger to Black Friday, widely considered in the United States as the traditional first day of shopping for the Christmas holidays with consumers taking advantage of such enticements as double-digit discount coupons and price slashes offered by retailers.

 The wife and mother of four still remembers the years when one of her four children, as a young boy, used to wake her up at five o’clock, even four o’clock in the morning so they could be at Mervyn’s for the Black Friday give-away gifts. She laughed as she recalled the one year the store was giving away 49er footballs to the first 500 customers.

“He wanted to have that. But they were giving one even to little babies in a stroller. So by the time we got there, it was gone,” she said, laughing at the memory.

“We did it for three, four years. After that he didn’t want to go anymore,” the Lathrop resident and St. Anthony’s School employee recalled.

Tebaldi, though, remained an avid but a smarter shopper through the years, putting into practice what she learned as a business major in college. She can quickly crunch the numbers to her pocket’s advantage.

For example, “I like going to Macy’s because they really go down on prices,” she said. They’d slash 50 percent off the regular price, then offer an additional 20 percent off on items. “And then if I have a coupon, like 20 percent, and use that, it’s almost like you get 80 percent off on one item.”

She has other Black Friday shopping tips she learned through the years:

•Take time to do your homework and consider the merchandise that you plan to purchase as a gift for the people you have in mind before going to the store. That way, you don’t get tempted to buy items on impulse just because, “oh, I think this is a good buy, or, oh, look at this! This is a good buy for this person. So you end up buying more than you intended to.” This is a lesson she has learned so well from firsthand experience, which is why, even now, “I’m already looking at the Black Friday sales,” both online and those advertised in the print media.

•She recommends putting on what she calls shopping “blinders” when going to the mall or store. That way, you don’t end up buying “something that you think you need and will not use anyway.” One way to avoid that shopping trap is to write down and make a list of the things you want to buy, “or make a list of who you are buying for; that way, you don’t buy anything extra.”

•Be a wise shopper “because at the end of the day, you have to be loyal to yourself and to your pocket,” not to the store or company,” she said. She gave this example for illustration. “If you put everything on your credit card, and they will charge you 25 percent interest, no matter how much sale discount you get, it doesn’t make any difference because of the interest (the credit card company) is going to charge you.” She laughed hard as she added, “I’m allergic to interest!”

She added, “I used to do a lot of shopping, but now I just choose what I will buy.” She laughed even harder when she noted, “My husband thinks I can make the penny squeaky clean because I won’t let it go. But I’m just being loyal to my pocket.”

That’s not to say she shies away from anything that is considered expensive. She is simply being a wiser shopper, she said. “I will buy items even if it’s expensive if I really need it and it’s really worth it. I don’t have any problem buying expensive things if I really need it and want it.”

And, while this sounds like a no-brainer, she said, “Don’t buy if you don’t have money; avoid using credit cards with high interest because by so doing you defeat the purpose of the sale.”

Last but not least shopping pointer she wants to stress is to be a safe shopper. Here’s a safety tip that “might/could save (shoppers) lots of money,” she said. “When their many purchases get so heavy that they want to take their merchandise to their cars, change parking spot no matter how hard it is to find one. You don’t know when thieves are watching for you to go back inside the mall and then, when you’re gone, break your windows and steal your hard-earned purchases. And don’t let any electronic wires or any packages showing through the windows. Be safe!”