Secret strategies of a Black Friday-aholic

These shoppers have it down to a science.

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'I'll never forget my first time'
'I'll never forget my first time'
Tara O'Brien (right), with her mother and a friend, after another successful Black Friday in Rochester, N.Y.
Tara O'Brien

I'll never forget my first Black Friday sale, buying those pillows at 75% off, the thrill of it all. I bought four! Within an hour of that trip I had spent all my cash and moved onto credit cards.

These days, I've learned to pace myself with careful research ahead of time. From the end of October forward, 'spreadsheets' are developed outlining stores, opening times, items, sale prices and if/when coupons apply. This helps with critical decisions in the moment, such as deciding between two stores that open at the same time.

Secret strategy: Leave your coat in the car. While you may be cold for that time leading to the store opening up, it gives you much needed freedom to run faster than others. You will thank me when you make it to the jewelry counter first.

Ultimate score: A regularly priced $250 Coach purse for $75! And I even talked them into throwing in a dust bag.

NEXT: A family affair
Last updated November 23 2010: 1:01 PM ET
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