With all of the hoopla around Black Friday, it can be hard to know if you’re actually getting a good deal. Retailers say that items are marked down, but how can we be sure? Also, with so many sales, how are we supposed to keep them all straight?
Luckily, there are a handful of sites and apps designed to take the stress out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. As you plan your shopping lists and holiday budgets, consider the following:
Check price history
Few places do Black Friday better than Amazon (AMZN). With thousands of deals, the online retailer is sure to be a top destination for shoppers all around the world. At the same time, Amazon is known to change prices on its products thousands of times a day, and in the past, the online retailer has been accused of raising prices on certain products before a big sale to make their discounts appear steeper.
If you’re watching a specific item, and want to know if your deal is actually a bargain, check it out on Camel Camel Camel, a free Amazon price tracker. After entering the item URL, Camel Camel Camel will show you price fluctuations over time. You can look at the price history, compare the highs and lows, and determine if your “sale” is actually a discount.
For mobile, the app Price Alert for Amazon is a great resource for tracking the history of Amazon items and setting price drop alerts.
Know discount codes
There will be a lot of sales during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, and it can be hard to keep track of all of your coupons and promo codes. One way to ensure that you’re getting the lowest price possible is to use a site like Coupon Cabin, which aggregates promo codes and coupons from around the web. It’s easy, available on mobile, and puts saving right at your fingertips.
RetailMeNot is also a great resource to find coupon codes.
Weekly ads in the paper are nice to look at, but very inconvenient to carry around. Enter Flipp, a mobile app that aggregates all of the latest weekly ads from the biggest retailers. Want to view the doorbusters at Walmart, browse deals at PetSmart? Flipp puts them all in one place. In addition to ads, the app provides coupons for popular retailers, and lets you load the deal directly onto your loyalty card at places like Walgreens, Duane Reade and CVS.
Stick to your budget
Black Friday does not mean that you have to blow all of your savings. If you’re prone to overspending, download the app Santa’s Bag, to help you stay on task.
This app allows you to set a budget, make a gift list and assign how much you want to spend on each person.
As you shop, enter the amount you’ve spent on each person to keep a running total. As you near the cap of your budget, Santa’s bag lets you know how much you have left to spend and how many gifts are left on your list.
If you want to track your holiday spending more generally, try signing up for a service like Mint. This site connects to your bank account and helps you track your spending in different categories like food, retail and electronics. You can even set a budget for each category and Mint will send you an alert if your spending in certain categories gets out of control.
Brittany Jones-Cooper is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.