It all beings in14 days.  Black Friday 2013. The one day of the year when people get up at ungodly hours to save a few bucks on a TV or some other specially priced item.  Are you ready?

Some of you plan all year for this event, mapping out a game plan days in advance. For some it's divide and conquer - a team of shoppers splitting up at 5 or 6 different stores armed with a fistful of various shopping lists.  For others it's misery loves company, everyone on the group heading to the same stores to enjoy (or endure) the experience together.

The one, and only, time I ventured out on Black Friday was several years ago in search of a great deal on a video gaming system at one of the big box stores.  Two things made a major impact on me that day:  how many people will forgo a lot of sleep to save a little money and how the 'black' in Black Friday seems to describer the mood of the average shopper. Getting there 15 minutes before a store opens gets you spot at the back of a VERY long line, and it's only a line until the doors open because after that it's every person for themselves.

I finally concluded after being cut in front of and cut off several times that some other people apparently needed these things much more than I did, or at least it sure seemed that way.  After that experience, I decided to sit out Black Fridays from now on.

I may be skipping Black Friday, but I am going to be doing my holiday shopping.  So how much is the average American going to spend this season? According to a survey conducted for the National Retail Foundation:

American consumers plan to spend $749.51 on gifts, decorations and other related items this holiday season, up just 1.2 percent from a year ago.


That's the smallest increase since 2008 to 2009, when holiday sales actually fell 1.8 percent after the financial meltdown.

How do those numbers stack up with what you're planning this year?  However much you spend, try to keep a smile on your face this Black Friday and the rest of the shopping season.