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Your guide to Black Friday deal-hunting

We asked money-saving experts their advice for how to be smart shoppers this year.
Experts share strategies for deal hunters this Black Friday, whether you're shopping online or in store. Photo: GETTY

Holiday season 2017 is underway, and if you want to go full-hedonist until the end of the year, no one’s going to stop you. Unfortunately, this time of overindulgence brings with it plenty of stress and no end to expenses. Black Friday, the annual day-of-deals which falls on Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving, can help keep us from burning a hole in the ole pocket, as long as we’re smart about it. We talked to experts to get advice on how to best take advantage of the discounts this year. 

Plan ahead 

The first thing you should do is follow your favorite retailers on social media and sign up for their newsletters to learn about any special discounts or sales as they’re announced, says Sara Skirboll, Shopping & Trends expert at RetailMeNot. To curb overspending, set a budget for yourself before you begin shopping. A good way to hold yourself accountable by purchasing a discount gift card with the exact amount you can afford to spend, and if you’re shopping in stores, leave your credit card at home.

Shopping online 

Nowadays, many Black Friday deals online are just as good as in-store. It’s up to you whether you have the energy to brave the crowds in person to get the doorbusters or do it all online from your couch.

If you do decide to surf online for deals, be aware that prices fluctuate throughout the day. Money saving expert Andrea Woroch suggests installing what’s called the Invisible Hand browser extension, which will send you a notification if there’s a better deal than the one you’re browsing and redirect you to the link. 

Shopping in-store

If you do head to the stores, get there early, as several of the doorbusters will be limited to early birds. Price matching will be the secret to getting the best deal, says Certified Financial Planner Lauren Lyons Cole. Research online before you leave the house, and if you find a certain item listed at a cheaper price, ask the cashier if they’ll match the price — in most cases, they will, she says. 

If you treat your deal-hunting like a competitive sport, Skirboll has some in-store tactics. “Start in the back of the store and work your way towards the front; moving in the opposite direction of the crowd gives you first access to some inventory,” she coaches. She also suggests assembling a team of shoppers and hitting the mall together so you can divide and conquer and have more sets of eyes to scope out the selection. But if you can, leave the kids at home. 

Maximize your deals with money-saving apps 

Money-saving apps will be your deal-seeking friends this Black Friday. Woroch suggests downloading Shopkick, which earns you points you can then redeem for gift cards, while Swagbucks earns you cash back when you shop online.