11/25/2013 05:04 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

What You Need to Know for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

It's almost here! One of the biggest shopping days of the year. If you are planning on heading out this Friday, here are some tips on how to prepare. If you are waiting to do everything online on Monday, we have tips for you too. Happy shopping!

IF YOU ARE NOT ON SOCIAL MEDIA ­ GET ON IT. (Even if you close your account
after the holidays.) Start following your favorite brands on Twitter and
Facebook for access to the latest promotions, discounts and more.

COUPONS ARE NOT JUST FOR FOOD. Remember, coupons are not just for groceries.
You can print coupons online for everything ­ from toys, DVDs, beauty supplies,
portraits and more. Go to places like to
find coupon codes aggregated for several different brands and retailers

JUST SAY NO TO USING YOUR CREDIT CARD. It will be much easier to stick to a
budget if you shop with cash instead of credit. Getting an extra 15 percent off sounds good for high ticket item maybe okay, but it will bring down your credit store
The cards also have terrible fees as well. Some things will cost you more in
the long run.

THEN, SAY NO TO THE CASHIER. Yes, even for that extra 10 percent off. Every time you
have your credit checked you may be lowering your credit score, which can
have long-term ramifications, like paying a higher interest rate on a car
purchase or a home refinance. Only open a card in-store if you can pay the
entire balance off when you get the bill -- paying interest is not saving

DO YOU NEED A WARRANTY WITH THAT? Purchase extended warranties with caution..
They are usually only beneficial on electronics that are new to the market.
Only get the warranty when it is a new product on the market. And never pay
more than 10 percent of the purchase price for a warranty.

READ THE FINE PRINT ON RETURNS. Pay extra attention to return policies. If
you're buying a gift with only a 14-day return policy, keep in mind you're
probably not giving the gift for about month so the return period will be
over. Think about if you need it to cover after Christmas time!

SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS FOR MORE DISCOUNTS. Remember to save receipts. Some
stores will offer you a one-time price adjustment if the item goes down in
price within 7 to 14 days. Also, check the bottom; oftentimes you can take a
survey and save on your next purchase.

MAKE REBATES COUNT. If your purchase has a rebate, make sure you make copies
of the original receipt, the UPC codes and any other information the
manufacturer needs. Most importantly, remember to mail it in. Manufacturers
count on people being lured in to purchases by rebate offers and then
forgetting to mail them in.

SHOP OUTLET STORES. Get even better deals starting on Thursday night or
Friday. They also give coupons books for additional savings.

OPEN BOX. Ask for open box items, another way you can get a discount!

CARPOOL OR HITCH A RIDE. If possible, have someone drop you off and pick you
up at the mall to avoid the stress of parking, or find a shopping buddy.

Don't let Black Friday scare you -- you can still save on CYBER MONDAY
(comfortable tennis shoes not required -- phew!)


COUPON CODES ­is the name of the game. Find them and use them.

SHIP DATES ­ WILL IT GET THERE IN TIME? Check the fine print. You don't
want an upset child if something doesn't arrive on time.

TO GIFT WRAP OR NOT? Don't pay it. It is on average $6.00. Not worth it when
the consumer is already opening a box.

SAY NO TO SHIPPING FEES! No one should pay for shipping on Cyber Monday. If
you are, look somewhere else.

RETURN TO THE STORE? Check out if the recipient can return to a retail
store.- sometimes this is easier than shipping back.

TIME DIFFERENCE Make sure you are looking at when the sales end. For
example, if the sale ends on 8 p.m. Eastern, make sure you are online by 5 p.m.