By Mahita Gajanan
November 20, 2018

Thanksgiving will be over. Leftovers will be resting, football games will have ended, and the time will be right to sneak away with a couple slices of pie to the mall or glow of your computer, because two more holidays are fast approaching, and they are all about shopping.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are on the way, with deals and sales on what seems like everything from big-screen televisions to Dutch ovens to multipack face masks.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed or even duped by the sheer amount of sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. One glance at a retail website or brochure can send you spinning over a cashmere sweater you didn’t even know you wanted.

But with a little help from an honest list of the items you can realistically buy, a budget, and clever couponing, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be a breeze. Here are the best ways to save the most money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to shopping experts.

Black Friday

Black Friday offers a bevy of deals for people heading to malls and stores and online shoppers looking to save a buck. In recent years, Black Friday has started transforming from a big in-person event, with people waiting in long lines outside stores to nab new products at the lowest price, to an online event, as several stores offer doorbuster sales on their websites.

Whether you’re heading to the mall on Black Friday or simply heading to your favorite retailer online, there are multiple ways to get the most out of the shopping holiday.

Make a list and work in advance

Before leaving the house or venturing to online retailers, make a list of what you want to get on Black Friday, says Rebecca Lehmann, a marketing manager with Brad’s Deals. It’s very easy to get off track because stores will offer deals on what seems like all their products.

“If you don’t go in with a list, you’re going to buy everything that catches your eye,” she says. “That’s not a great way to save money.”

Once you’ve nailed down which items you want, check into the deals stores are offering in the days leading up to Black Friday, says Lehmann. Some stores will offer early access sales, allowing people to make certain purchases early.

Scope out a variety of stores and price options

If you are venturing out on Black Friday, make sure to go armed with your smartphone, says Amy Chang, a lifestyle savings expert at Slickdeals. Having an idea of which items are best to buy at specific stores will help to streamline the amount of time and money you spend. Once you find what you want, do a quick Google search to see if it’s cheaper elsewhere, Chang says. Most retailers, including Best Buy and Target, will match a lower price.

Focus on big household items

The best deals on Black Friday are in the electronics and home goods sections, according to Chang. “Do-buy” items include televisions, tablets, and traditionally pricey goods like Apple products and gaming systems, which tend to go on sale during the holidays, she says.

According to Lehmann, Black Friday is great for kitchen appliances. Those who have been waiting to buy things like an Instant Pot, a smokeless grill, hand mixers, slow cookers or toasters will find great deals.

Don’t fall for every sale

Deals aren’t always good. While sales will be offered on most items, they can often be found cheaper at other points in the year, Chang says. Toys, for example, will often go on sale in the first two weeks of December.

“Most people are buying toys for kids, but you can procrastinate a little bit on that,” Chang says.

The same goes for bedding, which usually goes on sale in the beginning of January.

Take advantage of memberships and your credit card

Got a Target REDcard or live near a Kohl’s that offers cash back? Does your credit card offer price rewinds? Black Friday is a great time to cash in on such advantages, Lehmann says.

Using a credit card that offers price protection or cash back on any big-ticket items will help save money in the long run. Target’s REDcard will give shoppers a 5% discount on top of the sale price for items they purchase.

And a gadget at Kohl’s may cost the same as it would at Best Buy, but customers can receive $15 in cash back for every $50 they spend. “That goes a long way toward shopping for next month,” Lehmann says.

People whose credit cards qualify them for price rewinds can buy in advance a fully-priced item they know will be on sale during Black Friday and receive the difference back, Lehmann says. “If you have the funds available, buy it early for a higher price and get price rewind when it comes up.”

Cyber Monday

Whereas Black Friday brings shoppers to stores and to websites, Cyber Monday is a fully online event. It’s a great time to stock up on clothes, beauty supplies and gifts for the holiday season, experts say. Coupons, alerts and free shipping offer several ways to save the most on Cyber Monday.

Use online tools for alerts and coupons

Deals websites, including Wirecutter, Slickdeals, Brad’s Deals and DealNews, will feature up-to-date deals on a variety of items. Once you know what items you want, compare prices and check which websites offer coupons to get the lowest price possible.

Let other online services do the work of finding the best deals, too. Chrome browser extensions like CouponCabin will offer notifications of cash back options and coupons as you shop online. And you can send your receipts to Earny, which will search for price drops on items you’ve already purchased and claim the refunds automatically.

Find good sales on apparel and beauty items

While specific items are great to grab on Black Friday, Cyber Monday is best for storewide sales, according to Chang. This means it’s a great time to scoop up beauty supplies, clothing and jewelry that will be less expensive at places like Ulta, Sephora, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.

Check shipping policies

Several retailers that don’t normally offer free shipping will change their rules on Cyber Monday, making it a good day to online shop, says Chang. Amazon, for example, will give free shipping to non-Prime customers. Target is also offering free shipping through the holiday season.

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.

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