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10 Black Friday shopping secrets

As the world awaits the Black Friday bargains with bated breath, you’re on top of your game. You’ve checked your list twice, you know what to buy and have kept an eye out for last-minute ads and promotions. Tap or click here if you need a little help for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list.

While your actions are those of an experienced Black Friday shopper, it’s still possible to up your game.

Whether you’re joining the hordes of shoppers in stores, or just shopping from the comfort of your couch, you don’t want to go in unprepared. Here are 10 ways to make sure you get all the discounts you need.

1. The early bird …

If you want to get the deals, you’ve got to be early. Black Friday isn’t limited to just one day anymore. More and more retailers are offering pre-Black Friday specials.

In addition to deep discounts the entire week of Thanksgiving, you can grab some bargains today with Amazon’s countdown to Black Friday. Look for daily deals, lightning deals and discounts across many categories, including toys, home goods and electronics.

2. Charts, boards and highlighters

OK, so you don’t have to make literal charts for all the “leaked” Black Friday ads, but you should still have a plan, Those ads have provided good heads-up on numerous discounts, and it’s always best to have a backup plan in case that TV you want sells out.

Search additional circulars and websites that may have the same or similar offer as the one you’re really hoping to take advantage of. If the item you’re hoping to grab is one of the season’s hottest, add an alternative gift to your list to be safe. Tap or click here to check out the season’s best budget TVs.

3. Swift as a coursing river

The best discounts can sell out quickly, both in stores and online. If you’re genuinely committed to getting a hot deal before it’s gone, you may need to burn the midnight oil, stand in line for hours or even sleep in the store’s parking lot the night before.

Divide and conquer to be effective. Split up items on the list between yourself and a family member or friend. This practice may further be helpful online, if the discounts are exclusive to a retailer’s website.

4. Don’t get caught up

Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need it. Unfortunately, the unrelenting want to get the deal at any cost often leads to arguments and altercations between fellow shoppers. No TV, toy or gadget is worth fighting over, let alone put yourself at risk of physical harm.

5. Skip the doorbusters

Retailers hype up certain items and try to lure you in with low, low prices. Don’t fall for it. Certain items, including televisions, jewelry and big-ticket electronics, are offered at better discounts at different times throughout the year.

6. Time to study

Don’t just rely on ads or emails. Check other sources like social media for insider discounts and previews.

Retailers, like Target and Walmart, are known for making announcements about upcoming in-store promotions, and for offering coupons to those who click or like specific posts on Facebook or Twitter. You may also find holiday contests and giveaways not available elsewhere.

Tap or click here for the best Black Friday deals at Walmart, Target and Best Buy.

7. Check them out

If you’re unsure about a purchase, double-check whether all sales are final — which is often the case with significant discounts. Although some stores offer no-hassle returns, it is more likely you’ll find the majority of retailers have restrictions.

The most common requirements include a limited return period, and the packaging needs to be unopened and original. Further verify whether there are restocking fees and, if so, how much.

8. Use your tech

Instead of just checking one retailer’s site, use alerts and price comparisons sites and apps. The free app, Shopular, available for both iPhone and Android, uses geolocation to alert you with the best deals and coupons are available from top retailers nearest you from around the country.

If your holiday shopping includes a few Amazon items, try out This website is a free Amazon price tracker that monitors millions of products and will alert you when the prices drop on your selected items.

Tap or click here to learn more about CamelCamelCamel.

9. Get paid for what you’re already buying

Why not get paid for what you’re already buying? With sites like Rakuten, which also has an app (both are free), it’s easy to earn money back on most of your in-store and online purchases from a large number of retailers.

Tap or click here to learn more about Rakuten.

10. Double up

An easy way to double up on deals is with Honey, a browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera. Once added, Honey will automatically locate and apply the best promos to your online cart for over 20,000 sites.

Tap or click here to learn more about Honey.

In addition, RetailMeNot offers thousands of coupons, deals and cash-back offers — including those for holiday shopping. Like Honey, this popular savings website has a free browser extension, RetailMeNot Genie, that applies promos to your cart for you. The free RetailMeNot app is available for iPhone and Android.

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