Smart Buying

How to Get the Best Holiday Deals

Follow these dos and don'ts for saving money on gifts.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when consumers flock to the malls to score deals, is just around the corner. So some of you might be developing your game plan already. Or maybe you're gearing up for Cyber Monday, when retailers offer deals online. Andrea Woroch of CouponWinner.com and PromotionalCodes.com provides some dos and don'ts to consider when looking for deals:

Do ...

1. Shop online. This is the best way to compare prices and products. PriceGrabber.com, Shopping.com and Pronto.com are a few good price-comparison sites. Even if you plan on hitting the stores Black Friday, you can save money before you wake up at the crack of dawn by researching deals at sites such as Black Friday 2009.

2. Search for promotional codes. When shopping online, be sure to look for coupon codes for products you're about to purchase. Woroch says use your favorite coupon site, or go to Google and type in a retailer name and the words "promotional code."

3. Stack coupons. You can save even more by combining coupons with sale items or free-shipping codes. Read the fine print, Woroch warns, because some retailers won't let you use multiple coupons.

4. Take advantage of deals when you see them. This year won't be like last holiday season, when deals were abundant even the week of Christmas, Woroch says.

Don't ...

1. Don't buy extra stuff you don't need to meet a purchase value for scoring additional discounts. It sounds obvious, but the temptation can be great to spend a few (or several) extra bucks to score, say, an additional 10% off. Ask yourself if it's really worth it, though.

2. Don't stick to a certain brand. Maybe you buy all of your electronics at Best Buy, but Radio Shack or Walmart may have a better deal on the DVD player you want. You can save big by looking at different stores and brands.

3. Don't pay for coupons. Plenty of sites offer coupon codes and printable coupons for free: CouponWinner.com, PromotionalCodes.com, CouponSherpa.com and RetailMeNot.com are come of our favorites.

For more money-saving tips, see our Guide to Smart Holiday Spending

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