11/11/2013 10:49 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Stress Less, Save More: Secrets to Finding Black Friday Deals

It's that time of year again - you carbo-load on Thanksgiving so you can expend all that energy waking up early and fighting through crowds to find doorbusting deals. Some may consider Black Friday a sport that tests one's patience, endurance and elbowing ability. We say that with the right secrets and tips, you can rest easy this November 29th and still get the deals you want.

It's all about the apps

This is where smartphones really demonstrate their intelligence. Many stores offer apps you can download (often for free) that will give you access to leaked Black Friday deals, giving you a head start on finding the best bargains. Other mobile apps can help you create shopping lists, keep track of purchases or even compare prices from competing stores for the same item, helping you rest assured that you're getting the lowest price. Once you see how helpful these apps can be on Black Friday, you may just want to keep using them year round.

Keep on top of ad leaks

If you really want to stay ahead of the game, leaked scans of retailers' Black Friday ads will tell you everything you need to know. As soon as ads become available, you'll have access not only to the specific doorbuster deals you can look forward to, but any additional coupons or special promotions the store will be offering, along with its hours. Check those pages regularly to stay informed about the latest updates as they're released!

Email alerts are your friends

Stores like Best Buy, Walmart and Target all allow you to sign up for email alerts, giving you access to news about Black Friday sales way before everyone else. Not only do email alerts save you money, they also save you time. So instead of spending the night before Black Friday in a cold tent surrounded by strangers, you can spend time with your family enjoying the holiday. Not interested in receiving retail news all year long? You can always unsubscribe from alerts after Black Friday.

Shop before Black Friday

One of the best-kept Black Friday secrets is actually not about Black Friday, it's about the days before. Stores like Toys "R" Us, Sears and Kmart have joined the growing number of retailers opening on Thanksgiving, beginning their sales events at 8 pm on the 28th. Likewise, Target will open at 9 pm that evening. Wouldn't it be great if you woke up on Black Friday with all your holiday shopping completed? Now you can!

In addition to pushing their sales ever earlier, many retailers, including Walmart and Amazon, are already advertising "pre-Black Friday" events, taking place weeks in advance of the holiday. If you save a little less money than you might on Black Friday itself, the difference may be worthwhile for the benefit of relaxing this November 29th.

Make social media your secret weapon

Social media isn't just for sharing cat pictures and personal updates; it can also serve as a tool that saves you time, effort and money. In addition to the email alerts mentioned above, many stores also leak Black Friday deals on their Facebook pages and Twitter profiles. Follow or like your favorite retailers' social media accounts to stay informed about their latest news and promotions. Even your own friends and followers can even be a valuable (if unreliable) source of information, so pay attention to posts from fellow shopping fanatics.

Take advantage of these tools and you won't miss out on any of this year's best deals. While you may still need to brave some crazy crowds, with these handy tips in your arsenal, you'll be miles ahead of the competition.