We're at three weeks and counting to Black Friday. But Black Friday is no longer just one day of exhausted shopping. It's emerged as an idea that can occupy a whole weekend or longer.

Retailers used to get upset when copies of their Black Friday ads leaked out on the web. Today, however, they strategically leak them to websites like DealNews.com, BlackFriday.info, GottaDeal.com and BFAds.net, among others.

Surprisingly, clothing is expected to be the top-selling item this Christmas season, according to the NPD Group's 10th Annual Holiday Retail Outlook.

As for Black Friday, I have never gotten up in the middle of the night to stand in a line during the pre-dawn hours. It's just not my thing, despite being a cheap guy. But I know there's an excitement and you can get caught up in it.

So my advice is utilize the sales, but be disciplined. Have a budget, take a shopping list of the naughty and nice people in your life with you and stick to it. Don't just buy something because of the excitement of the moment and then later say, "Did I really need to spend money on that?"

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is offering a price guarantee where if you buy something anytime during the season and see the same item advertised cheaper elsewhere, they'll give you a gift card for the difference. But they've purposely excluded Internet retailers because even Wal-Mart knows it can't compete against those guys.  

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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