Black Friday Cheat Sheet: How to Get the Best Deals Possible

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

Black Friday is days away, but deals are already heating up from Amazon, Target, Walmart and other retailers, days before the shopping holiday. Here at CNET, we’ve been rounding up the available deals so far, and we’re pulling together some of our top links and tips here to kickstart your shopping experience. 

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We’ll walk you through several easy ways to prepare for Black Friday to make this shopping season as stress-free as possible, from budgeting tips to researching Black Friday ads. Once you’re up to speed with all things Black Friday, make sure you check out these easy ways to save on shippinghow to send holiday gifts via Amazon and our guide to Thanksgiving store opening hours.

But before we get to that, let’s front-load the bevy of deals and shopping options already available.

Where to start: Best Black Friday deals

Best Black Friday deals so far: Your first destination for the latest and best deals we’ve found so far. Black Friday deals live blog: This story is being periodically updated for now, but we’ll kick it into high gear as we approach Thanksgiving. Best Black Friday deals under £25: We round up the top options under £25.

Check back later for the best deals under £50 and £100. Join our texting group: Have the best Black Friday deals delivered right to your phone during the lead up and throughout the whole event. 

Best Black Friday deals by store

Have a favorite store? We’ve got plenty of store-specific deal roundups to get you started. 

More Amazon tips and deals: 

Best Black Friday deals by topic

We’re actively updating our “evergreen” deals stories to fold in the latest and greatest early Black Friday offers. 

Got all that? Good. Now let’s talk about some general Black Friday shopping tips.

Set a budget and put money aside

Whether you’re buying for yourself or grabbing gifts for friends and family, the holiday shopping season seems to come around so quickly every year.

Therefore, it’s wise to budget for it throughout the year so that you don’t put such a heavy burden on your last few paychecks of the year.  With many Black Friday sales having already started (see above) and a general state of economic unease (like the thousands of layoffs in the tech sector and elsewhere), you need to be more judicious than ever about spending limits. It’s a good idea to set a maximum you’re willing to spend all told and then to track your spending during the event.

It’s easy to get swept away in the excitement when deals go live and not pay close enough attention to how much you’re spending, but that self-accountability will be key to avoiding a huge overspend. 

Decide what you want to buy and check prices now

While a lot of Black Friday shopping is impulse-led, a more effective way to shop is to try and identify purchase targets ahead of time and create a list. There are a few reasons why this is a better approach. Firstly, you can assess prices now which helps you with your budget and saving targets.

Doing the research now also helps you figure out what is actually a good deal worth buying during the event or whether a “sale” price isn’t too far from a product’s regular going rate.  During Black Friday sales, you can also work through the list you made to get everything you need in an organized fashion while trying your best to avoid wasting money on impulse buys. 

Peruse as many Black Friday ads as you can before the event

Part of your pre-event research should involve checking out as many Black Friday ad scans as you can. Not only is this the best way to get a sneak peek at the deals that are coming during the event, but you’ll also be able to budget more effectively and shop more efficiently if you know where all the best prices are. 

Shop the early sales now or plan for shipping delays

As mentioned upfront, Black Friday sales don’t wait for Black Friday before they begin — many are already live!

If you can lock in a low price now, not only does that help spread out the cost but it could help you avoid a hefty shipping delay, or avoid missing out on a deal altogether, later on. For the sake of a few dollars’ difference between now and Black Friday proper, it may be worthwhile snagging things you need now. If you don’t need things urgently, then it may suit you to wait a bit longer.

Early Black Friday sales:

Compare prices with the CNET Shopping extension

Is that Black Friday “deal” really a deal? Instead of looking up prices on Amazon’s retail competitors one by one, do it instantaneously with a price comparison extension for your web browser. There are several on the market, but CNET now has its own in-house extension: CNET Shopping (formerly known as PriceBlink).

It works across a bunch of retailers and can show you the best current deal, price history for select items, coupons for retailers that can help you add to your savings and more. The best part of it all? The extension is completely free.

Give it a try right now on Google Chrome.

Follow the CNET Deals team

The CNET Deals team will keep you up to date on all of the best deals between now and Black Friday, so be sure to follow the team on Twitter and sign up for the CNET Deals newsletter.

We’ve got plenty of other shopping tips for you, like how to save on used electronics and the best perks of Amazon Prime.