Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the two biggest shopping days of the year, when thousands of eager customers flock to local stores in search of the best deals on holiday gifts. However, the chaos surrounding the big shopping holidays can also add up to a lot of stress and very little money actually saved. Don’t be one of those customers that ends up missing out on all the great deals or spends more than they need to. Instead, use a few tips to get ahead of the shopping game to ensure you’re getting the very best deals in person or online.

Related: Navigating The Web For The Best Deals On Cyber Monday

Be The Early Bird

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Many stores start their Black Friday deals as early as Wednesday. In some cases, those sales are limited to loyalty club customers or those on mailing lists. So be sure to keep an eye on your email and mailbox the week before the big day itself. You may be able to snag an even better deal than the one that is advertised for Black Friday. Plus, if you shop early, not only are you getting the best deals, but you may be able to avoid the full parking lots, pushy shoppers and the chaos in general.

Try Price Comparisons

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There are a lot of great websites like PriceWatch, ShopAdvisor and ShopSavvy that help track all the different prices for you, saving you tons of time in the process. You can check these sites to find the cheapest prices online for a variety of different items, including all those huge Cyber Monday sales that happen following Black Friday. If you are going to shop online, be sure to factor shipping prices into your total price comparisons as well, since a few dollars savings doesn’t make much of a difference if you have to tack on even more in shipping and handling fees.

Related: 5 Best New Apps For 2015 Holiday Shopping

Read Reviews

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If you’re looking at high-end equipment like televisions or computers, then you’ll want to shop smart by checking reviews. There are so many great websites that offer reviews of products, from consumer reviews to professional ones. After all, it doesn’t mean much to save lots of money on a new computer or television if that product breaks down after just a few months. As you make your shopping list, if you spot a deal on something high-end, then just a few minutes of research on that brand could end up saving you hundreds of dollars and hours of headache.

Watch For Rebates

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A lot of the sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday will seem too good to be true, but when you look at the fine print, you’ll realize that you only save the money after sending in for a mail-in rebate. It may be a fantastic deal, but many studies show that most consumers never actually get around to mailing in rebate forms. It’s important to know yourself and to know if you’re the type that will remember to send in the rebate, or if you’ll forget about it and end up not saving anything after all.

Try Again Later

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If you’re one of the unlucky folks that get to a store for an early morning deal only to find out that item is sold out, it may be worth it to try again later in the day. Many times consumers get so caught up in the shopping frenzy of Black Friday that they end up buying items they don’t really want, which then end up getting returned later that day, or left for re-stocking later in the day. A quick visit to that store a bit later may turn up one of those returned items or ones that have been sitting in the re-stocking carts. So if you missed a great deal, you may end up being able to take advantage of that sale after all.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at