My frugal mom loves to brag about her deal-finding abilities. Someone will compliment her on her necklace, and she'll launch into the story of how she got it for 75 cents at a garage sale. When I was young, this embarrassed me. As I've grown older, this has impressed me…and never more so than during the holiday season. This year I aim to one-up her by putting these savings strategies into practice! 

1. Know when to shop for what

Not every item will be at its lowest price during Black Friday…or even Cyber Monday, for that matter. For the biggest savings, you need to know when to shop for what.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Don't buy televisions on Black Friday—wait until January for deep year-end inventory discounts (with deepest discounts right before the big Super Bowl game).
  • Don't buy toys on Black Friday or Cyber Monday—for the deepest discounts, wait until a couple weeks before Christmas Day.

2. Beware of "add-ons"

Add-ons are all the other items you need to fully make use of the main item. A common example is a camera. You also need a carrying bag, different types of lenses, cleaning supplies, a tripod, lighting, a memory card, etc., etc.

  • What to do: Research everything you need in advance and calculate the total price. Look for discounts on add-ons. If you can't find discounts, it’s wise to wait.

3. Use flash coupons with care

"Flash coupons" are basically coupons that are only good for a very short period of time (usually 24 hours or less). These coupons prey upon shoppers' love of a good deal—and our fear we won't find such a low price again.

  • What to do: Remind yourself that any successful coupon promotion will be repeated. If you can't afford it, it isn't on your shopping list, you don't really need it, or you aren't sure it’s the very best price you will see on that item, skip it.

4. Save your deal-scouting patience for the items that can wait

If your child absolutely must have the Disney Frozen Sparkle Princess Elsa Doll, don't wait! Buy it when you find it. Gifts like these are so hot that sales are unlikely at best.

5. Dig in to membership perks for extra savings

From credit card rewards points to AAA discounts, military or teacher affiliations to web portals, you likely have many more cost-comparison options than what you’re using right now.

Yes, apps and price comparison browser add-ons can help with this task, but before you decide for sure where to buy that-thing-you-want, see if you can use your rewards points or members-only discounts/web portals for even deeper savings!

6. Abandon your online shopping cart

While none of us particularly appreciates having to navigate around abandoned brick-and-mortar shopping carts, the online version causes no accidents and can only lead to deeper savings.

  • What to do: Abandon (close out of) your online shopper cart after you have entered your email address but before you pay. Then wait. There is an increasingly high likelihood the merchant will send you an email with a savings incentive to come back and buy the items in your cart.

7. Whatever you do, don't overspend your budget

Statistics show that savvy, early bird, online shoppers often outspend their procrastinating brick-and-mortar shopping counterparts—by as much as 11%! While it’s great to find deep savings and brag-worthy deals, the glow will soon wear off…leaving debt in its wake.

  • What to do: Post your final-final spending figure in a place you can see it (on the back door, on your car dashboard, inside your wallet, as your phone's wallpaper)—make it so visible you can't help but remember that savings do not out-rank budgets.

8. Re-evaluate your loot before you start wrapping

Finally, there is no harm in buying something that you later decide to return (so long as you know the retailer's return policy and the item is eligible). This is one tactic I already use with great success.

I make sure to wrap gifts several days before Christmas, and at that time I take a look at everything I have bought, how many gifts each recipient has, and whether there are any similar gifts.

Then I decide which gifts to keep and which to take back. My bank account thanks me…and my gift recipients are none the wiser.