Great deals are available on Black Friday, but taking advantage of those bargains can be a real contact sport. The biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday got its name because retailers earn enough on that day to put them “in the black” or on the positive side of their annual account ledgers. If you approach Black Friday with some systematic preparation, you can save money and get a jump on the upcoming holiday season.

Do Homework Ahead of Time

As soon as Halloween costumes are put away, start scanning Black Friday ads and cross-checking them with consumer product reviews. Clip coupons and note your local store hours and promotions. Pay special attention to online sales, because digital marketers are increasingly jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon. And keep checking Simple. Thrifty. Living’s deal page to keep track of the best deals.

Start a Notebook of Lists

Making lists is a basic way to protect your budget, and it’s doubly important in the hectic environment of Black Friday shopping. Retailers count on you to spend more than you plan once they get you in their stores. When you see people grabbing boxes off the shelf, it’s hard to resist the impulse to snatch one yourself. Having a list of who you’re shopping for and what you plan to buy helps you walk past the feeding frenzy for some gadget you really have no use for.

Know How You’ll Pay

When you’re buying electronics, you may want to use a credit card that offers extended warranty or price-matching protection. Likewise, if you plan large purchases, you can benefit from using a card that gives you bonus points or travel miles.

Take Care of Your Physical Needs

Black Friday involves extreme shopping, and you should prepare for it as you would for any physical adventure. The stresses of long lines and crowds can be intensified by sleep deprivation if you’re trying to catch a midnight or 6 a.m. opening time. Wear sturdy shoes, stay hydrated and pack healthy snack foods to keep your energy level high. Make frequent stops at your car (or dispatch a companion with parcels) so you don’t end up with a sore back from hauling heavy bags around. Most importantly, stop before you’re exhausted.

Introducing moderation into Black Friday shopping takes some discipline, but you can treat it as an adventure instead of a chore. Even if you head for home before you’ve hit every store on your list, give yourself credit for making a productive start on gift shopping. With some planning and a lighthearted attitude, Black Friday shopping can be the start of a fun, fulfilling holiday season.