It’s the most highly anticipated shopping day of the year. How can consumers best take advantage?

We consulted with shopping and money saving experts who offered their advice for best strategizing your spending. A combination of planning ahead, doing your research, setting a budget — and sticking to it — is the way to ensure successful shopping during this season of deals.

Which deals are trending this year?

According to Benjamin Glaser, the features editor at DealNews, the top categories this season are: TVs, laptops, home appliances, and clothing. Cyber Monday, on the other hand, is a better day to find discounted airfare and hotel bookings.

How should you research deals?

Check sites like DealNews and Bfads.net  to stay up to date on the latest offerings across major retailers. If you know what you want to buy, Glaser recommends a Google search to make price comparisons of an item across retailers. Camel Camel Camel tracks prices on Amazon.

As far as apps, consumer and money saving expert Andrea Woroch  names the Flipp app and Shop Savvy for making price comparisons of digital circulars, coupons and in-store items. Coupon Sherpa gives you access to in-store coupons, while Santa’s Bag App will help you keep track of your shopping list and budget.

Should you shop in-store or online?

According to Sara Skirboll, Shopping and Trends expert at RetailMeNot, 73 percent of Black Friday shoppers this year are planning to shop at brick-and-mortar locations.

For those undeterred by the crowds, Woroch has a few tips for making your big shopping day more manageable.

“Consider heading to a mall or outlet center where you can access many retailers in one location and avoid driving around town,” she says. Woroch also recommends finding out how many of a certain item is available in store before you go.

She recommends bringing a shopping buddy who can help divide and conquer your list— and wait on line for you while you’re grabbing a last minute item.

Leaving your credit cards at home and paying with cash will keep you from making impulse buys outside of your budget.

Glaser says online shopping is preferable because it’s more convenient and easier to make price comparisons on goods; and often, the deals online and in-store are roughly equivalent.

If you want to take a chance at going for in-store doorbusters for the absolute lowest prices, he says, which are at a limited supply, know that you run the risk of waking up early, waiting on line and maybe still not getting the deal before it runs out.

Cash in on deals before Black Friday

It’s a common misconception that Black Friday deals are limited to the day itself. In the days leading up to Friday, many retailers have already begun offering discounts. According to Glaser, Thanksgiving is actually the biggest day of the year for discounts and deals. He advises making your purchases on turkey day. “You can do it without sacrificing family time because these deals are available online,” he says. Deals will be also be available in stores, if you need a breather.

What deals should you hold out for?

Mark Dec. 16, Free Shipping Day, on your calendar, which over 2,000 retailers participate in. Gift cards and jewelry see better deals in December, closer to the holidays, says Glaser, as well as toys and seasonal decor, notes Woroch. Prices on winter clothing, if you can wait, will drop significantly in January and February.