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Five Ways to Save Money During the Thanksgiving Day Sales

By Stacey Ross

Black Friday and Cyber Monday now represent much more than ringing in the holiday shopping season; the days have become holiday traditions in themselves. In 2012, total spending over the Thanksgiving weekend hit a record $59.1 billion, up from $52.4 billion in 2011. The number of shoppers in stores and online also hit new records.

Like it or not, some retailers are now opening up shop on Thanksgiving Day itself, making the weekend even more of a shopping event. In-store shoppers want a plan and know what deals they want to score, and online shoppers are looking for the lowest prices and free shipping. The following are some tips for using your computer and mobile devices to not only save money but help you spend wisely!

1. Check out the sales ads

You can find sales ads in your local newspaper, store circulars, or online. Make note of coupons and door busters. Sites such as TheBlackFriday.com, BlackFridayAds.net and GottaDeal.com will share "leaks" of what is to come and all sorts of information to help you navigate the weekend more easily and more affordably. Check back frequently!  

2. Watch out for impulse buying

Acting on impulse can be quite powerful! Begin with the mindset that purchasing the items on your list is your objective, not scoring great deals (unless you are going to resell your purchases). A good idea is to research any item over $50 before you head to the store. Be sure to read product reviews, seek out coupon codes and discounts, and look for free shipping offers.  Also, if you are at the checkout at an in-store location, make note of what you have thrown in the cart and ask yourself if it is something you really need.  

3. Use price comparison apps

In-store shoppers are smart to question whether the price they see is really the best deal out there. It’s not unusual to discover that the hot deal of the year was not actually that hot at all! Nearly 40 percent of smartphone owners are now using their devices for in-store price comparisons, making it the top mobile shopping-related activity, according to Nielsen.

A few top apps worth downloading are RedLaser, Google Shopper and the Amazon app. With a scan of the barcode or a manual search, shoppers can compare prices of the same merchandise, both nearby and online. It’s important to note that some store-specific barcodes won't scan, which means a fast search won't show results. Researching online before heading out is always a smart move!

4. Use discount apps

Discount apps mean you never need to pay full price again. They can send you price alerts; allow you to check out product ratings; help you save using rewards programs; and give you access to reviews from other users. Bottom line: you save money on the products you want!

Retailers such as CVS, Nordstrom, IKEA, Macy's, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Walgreens offer special services, such as the ability to manage prescriptions, find deals on products, and arrange for pick up at a local store. They also offer special in-store savings, the ability to access a registry and find gifts for others, and provide instant access to product details, videos, and more.

5. Research big purchases

Before you shop, ask around and check ConsumerReports.org, particularly when you’re planning to make a major purchase. Lastly, note that social media is beginning to catch on (especially when people can save money!), so be sure to look out for exclusive deals and contests that appear on store Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

So how about you? Are you going to venture online or head out during Turkey Day weekend for those hot deals? Or is it too much consumerism for one weekend? Share your opinions, thoughts and finds with @sdbargainmama (#BlackFriday2013). I look forward to tweeting with you!

Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.

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