The holiday shopping season is here and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner now is the time to figure out your shopping strategy if you hope to save.

I know, you’re probably thinking: “I need a strategy? Why can’t I just look at the circulars or online and buy what I need when it’s on sale?

Well, I’ll tell you why; because shopping is tricky.

There are in-app discounts, online-only deals, time-sensitive offers and other specials you need to know about in order to maximize your savings.

Not to mention, you need to know what items are at their lowest price at what time- and it’s not always on Black Friday!

Bottom line: if you don’t buy at the right time from the right place, using the right tools, odds are you aren’t getting the best deal.

I know, it sounds complicated, but I’m going to make it easy for you with my 2017 Holiday Shopping Tips.

Below are ways to save that are guaranteed to help you save big, and you don’t need a college degree or a ton of time to use them.

Tip 1: Browser Extensions

Online shopping can be a real headache; sure, you can find everything with a click, but who wants to open 20 browser windows to compare prices or sign up for 5,000 alerts from every store as you try to find that Nintendo Switch for less than a mortgage payment?

Well, you don’t have to thanks to 2 impressive browser extensions that do all the work for you: InvisibleHand and Honey

InvisibleHandInvisibleHand runs in the background as you shop and will alert you when it finds an item for less on another site or if there is a coupon code for the site you’re on. And as someone who recently started using it, let me tell you it makes shopping online smooth and easy.  Click on the name here and follow the link to install it on your PC.
HoneyHoney is for coupons-only, searching the Internet as you shop for any coupons that apply to where you are shopping and automatically applies it when you check-out. So no more searching for codes to get the best deal.

Tip 2: Store Apps

If you are a slave to Target or only buy from Walmart it makes sense to download their apps, as most give additional savings on top of the sale price. And some, like Target’s Cartwheel, can even be used when you’re shopping in-store. Here are links to the top store apps:

Target’s Cartwheel
Walmart app
Amazon app
Toys “R” Us app

Tip 3: Know When To Shop

Sure, everything is on sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s at it’s lowest price. Certain items will drop lower before and others after. Here’s a general guideline to follow:

Toys: the most popular toys should be bought as soon as possible and are normally at their lowest during Black Friday- around 50% off; However, traditional toys, like board games, usually drop to their lowest price about 2 weeks before Christmas, at around 70% off.
Appliances: November, in general, is the best time to buy appliances, so if you see a good deal before Black Friday grab it.
Clothing: When it comes to winter apparel, the closer to Christmas it gets the lower th price drops; in fact, the week after Christmas is the best time to buy as stores look to unload winter clothing.
Electronics: For TV’s, Black Friday is a good time, but the best time is January, leading up to the Super Bowl. For other electronics, November, through Black Friday is the best time to shop.

Tip 4: CashBack Sites

If you plan to shop mostly online it pays to sign up for a cash back site like Ebates. Trust me, these sites really work and while you won’t get rich you can make some nice money for something you already plan to do.

The process is simple: once you sign up with a cashback site (which is free) all you need to do is go to the site, type in the store you want to shop at and shop away! The best sites to use are Ebates, Mr. Rebates, and Top Cashback.

Tip 5: Discount Gift Cards

Believe it or not, you can get gift cards to popular retailers at a discount, either to give as a gift or to use yourself when making holiday purchases. I recommend, which is currently offering $5 off when you spend $50 or more with them. They also have a wide array of cards.

What do you think of my 2017 Holiday Shopping Tips & Tricks? Share your thoughts or shopping suggestions below and be sure to follow all my latest consumer news reports on Twitter!