It's the thrill of the hunt for great bargains that gets people to leave home on Thanksgiving or in the middle of the night on Black Friday.
If you're one of them, I have tips to help you score and save the most, no matter what day you venture out to shop.
Set a budget: Set a spending limit and stick to it. Draw up a list of what and for whom you need to buy and when/where you'll shop. Resist impulse purchases.
Sign up now: Get email and mobile alerts from your favorite stores so you can keep up with offers. Retailers are having sales in waves this year (Walmart's sales begin at 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday). Alerts will help cut through the clutter.
Join reward clubs: Toys R Us is offering early access to Black Friday deals on Wednesday for reward members. Sign up at RewardsRUs.ToysRUs.com.
Get social: Many retailers will post doorbuster sales on Facebook. Use Foursquare app to unlock savings, such as AMEX offers for $25 back at Best Buy and Forever 21 through Dec. 31.
Coupons: Clip them and add to your list. Macy's circular will have a $10 off coupon good Thursday through Saturday, for instance.
Low-price guarantees: Save receipts (I keep them in an envelope in my purse so they're easy to find and always with me). Use price-match and price-adjustment policies to get the best deals. Policies are posted on store websites.
Target, Best Buy and Toys R Us price-match local competitors and Amazon.com pricing.
Walmart will ad-match competitor doorbusters right at the register on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Its Christmas ad-match policy now includes pricing on Walmart.com. Through Dec. 24, find a lower price from a competitor (not online) and get the difference refunded on a gift card. Info: Walmart.com/cp/Christmas-Ad-Match.
Research: Be sure to get a copy of the Thanksgiving Day Sun Sentinel (if you can lift it). The ads are an invaluable resource. Clip the best to your list, and use the ads for one-stop shopping with price-match policies.