Five Black Friday and Cyber Monday Tips from CouponMom.com

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Here are this year's newest ways to save money this holiday season.

Over 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend last year according to the National Retail Federation, and it’s estimated that 2013 is going to be even bigger. Finding the real bargains versus the hype is the key to successful Thanksgiving weekend shopping according to Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com, a website offering essential holiday shopping tips to its 7 million members.

Big retailers, online marketplaces, and drug stores are all offering significant price cuts for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Online retailers have become very competitive, Nelson says, so watch for the deep discount offers early, even as early as Thanksgiving Day.

Nelson advises to shop online first and stack your savings. "If I'm shopping online, I look at the retailers’ deals, find an online coupon code, and actually do my shopping through a cash back website," says Nelson.

Here are Stephanie's best ways to make the most of your holiday shopping buys:

1.Plan your store sales strategy: Google “Black Friday Ads” to find sites that have posted retailers’ ads in advance. Map out your shopping strategy based on the best deals you need and the stores’ opening times. Divide and conquer with a shopping partner and get each other’s items to cover more stores earlier.

2. Get free deals to give gift baskets: Create themed gift baskets at no cost with deals you bought by using store loyalty cards at the national drugstore and office supply chains. Give a Beauty Basket using hair care items, nail polish and facial soap. Give a Chocolate Lovers basket using chocolate bars and M&Ms. Give a Business Basket using pens, copy paper, and office software. Find all 44 deals (starting on Thursday and lasting through Sunday) from CouponMom.com’s store deals lists.

3.Compare Prices: When you are shopping for a specific item, compare prices online on the item before hitting the stores or shopping online. Prices can vary significantly, and an online retailer may offer no cost shipping and have no sales tax. Download a price comparison app on your phone to have with you while you shop to make sure you don’t overpay.

4.Shop Online to Save Time and Money: If you decide to shop online, keep in mind that the coupons and prices may be lower on Monday. Be sure to look for online coupon codes for your retailers by searching Google for the retailer name with the term “coupon code.”

5.Stack coupons on top of sale price: Use coupons to drop the price even further:
•Google the term “printable coupon” with the store name to find coupons you can print.
•Follow a retailer's social networking page (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to get access to special coupons or limited-time flash sales
•Go to an online coupon site like http://www.CouponMom.com to find coupon codes for discounts and no cost shipping
•Watch the newspaper ads and catalog mailings for in-store coupons

Stephanie Nelson is the Coupon Mom. With more than 7 million members, Coupon Mom gives members access to thousands of printable coupons for groceries, restaurants and more. Her book, “The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half,” is a New York Times best seller.

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