It’s that time of year again: the time to spend, spend, spend.

Are you already worried about how much the holidays are going to cost you? Fretting about stuffing those stockings and checking off your kiddos’ lists?

Fortunately, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales abound this year. And if you play your cards right (i.e., plan ahead), then you can play Santa and keep from breaking the bank at the same time.

Want to take advantage of the holiday’s biggest sales? Here are the tips and tricks you need to do it: 

1. Make a list and know what you’re looking for.

Browsing pages upon pages of sales is only going to make you spend more (hey, that $20 quesadilla maker could be useful sometime, right?) If you want to keep a tight rein on spending, then you need to go into this with a list of items in mind. 

Cull your loved ones’ wishlists, and jot down the more costly items — ones you could really use a deal on. You should also add gadgets or tech items you’re looking for. Cyber Monday sales tend to be largely focused in this area, so it’s probably when you’ll find the steepest deals on those items.

2. Research products.

If you’re on the hunt for anything on the expensive end — or something you’ll use for a long time to come — then do some research on products and brands first. A $100 giant-screen smart TV sounds nice, but if it’s grainy, doesn’t work with your Chromecast, or breaks down in a year, is it really worth the effort? Know what products and brands you’d be willing to purchase (as well as which ones aren’t up to snuff.)

3. Shop the early sales, too.

Many retailers launch special deals ahead of Black Friday — a day, two days, or sometimes even a few weeks ahead of time. Amazon, for example, has some pre-Black Friday deals going live as early as Nov. 22, and home improvement store Lowes actually has them all month long.

Here are a few you’ll want on your radar:

  • Amazon – Sales start Nov. 22
  • Overstock.com – Sales start Nov. 22
  • Target – Sales start Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving Day), RedCard holders can access deals Nov. 27
  • Walmart – All month long
  • Lowes – All month long
  • Costco – All month long 
  • JCPenney – Sales start Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving Day)
  • Kohl’s – Sales start Nov. 25

4. Be wary of doorbusters and too-good-to-be-true prices.

If a store is advertising a $20 Xbox (and advertising it to hundreds of thousands of people), you can bet the deal is super limited — like maybe 10 of those Xboxes are available. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket to follow a pipe dream. You don’t want to end up waiting in a line for 10 hours only to be disappointed (and miss out on tons of other sales while you’re there.) Focus your efforts where you have the best chance at scoring a deal — ideally several of them.

5. Stay tuned to your favorite retailer.

If you’ve got a retailer or two that you just love — one that carries brands you love or products you frequent — then get on their email and mailing lists now. There’s a good chance they’ll be sending out promo codes and coupons in the coming weeks. You might be able to double these up with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to save even more cash.

6. Clear your schedule — or stock up on caffeine.

If there’s an online Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale you’ve got your eye on, then be prepared to stay up late. These sales typically go live as soon as midnight strikes, so you’ll need to be ready with that laptop open when it does. You should also be logged in to any websites you plan on shopping and have your payment info preloaded, too. This will help you snag those super-limited deals that everyone else is vying for.

7. Know your budget.

You need to have a budget for your shopping trip — as well as individual budgets for each item you’re looking for. Know how much you can spend as a whole and how much you’re willing to spend on every product on your list. Keep track of your purchases as you go and make sure you’re not overextending yourself.

8. Stack your savings.

Before the big shopping days, study up on your credit cards. Do any offer cashback or extra rewards for spending at certain retailers or with specific categories? Do you have any store-specific cards you can use in your efforts? Try to align your payment method to take advantage of any extra perks that could save you.

Need Help This Holiday Season?

If you need help covering those holiday shopping trips, a cash-out refinance may be able to help. Want to lower your interest rate and housing payment to free up more cash? A rate and term refinance might be your best bet. Get in touch with an expert at Embrace Home Loans today to discuss your options.