Whether or not you mark off Black Friday on your calendar, chances are you're wondering what bargains are out there this season. For instance, is it better to purchase a smartphone that Friday, or should you hold off until Cyber Monday?
- For more tips on budgeting and spending for the festive season, see our annual Holiday Financial Guide
To help you break down what's best to buy when, we turned to deal-hunting expert Rebecca Lehmann, manager of content marketing for Brad's Deals. Here's what she told us.
Apple: Black Friday
Black Friday is a great time for buying "anything Apple," said Lehmann, "but not directly from Apple" (i.e., you'll want to shop for Apple products at Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy instead). "You might still be paying $299 for an iPad Mini," she said, "but bundled with a gift card, that could bump up the value."
Blu Rays & DVDs: Black Friday
"You can count on all that kind of stuff for Black Friday," Lehmann said of Blu Rays and DVDs.
TVs and cameras: Black Friday
At times you can score deals on minor stuff like home goods and other categories, but for the most part you'll want to hone in on electronics. For Lehmann, that means keep your eyes peeled for cameras, flat-screen TVs and laptops.
Smartphones: Black Friday
"If you need a new phone, Black Friday is hands-down the day to do it," said Lehmann. "You'll get a really good price on your trade-in, which you can then apply to your phone, and signing up for a contract lowers the price even more." If you miss out on the Black Friday deals, don't despair: The prices you see on phones now are generally "the prices they're going to be for the whole season," Lehmann said.
Vacuums: Black Friday
"We see a lot of vacuum deals for Black Friday," said Lehmann.
Winter clothes: Black Friday
Out of boots? Need a new puffer coat? Now's the time to scoop those winter duds up, said Lehmann. "Anything you need to pad up your winter wardrobe, Black Friday is the time to do it."
Airfare: Cyber Monday
"There are always going to be airfare sales on Cyber Monday," said Lehmann, especially among discount carriers like Spirit, JetBlue and Virgin America. Just know they usually have blackout days over the holidays so you'll need to plan your trip for next spring.
Computers and laptops: Cyber Monday
This is really where places like Newegg, the popular online computer goods store, shine, said Lehman. "They have a little bit of everything, electronics and audio, and they're very competitive." Expect to see similar deals nationwide.
Online-only stores: Cyber Monday
"The best deals for Cyber Monday will be on websites that just don't have bricks-and-mortar locations," said Lehmann. Think home decor sites like Etsy, Minted, Society6, and so on.
Toys: Right before Christmas
"Toys are never at their best on Black Friday," said Lehmann, who advised waiting until the last two weeks before Christmas to buy them. You can learn how to get the toys your kids actually want here.
Remember, scoring a bargain never hurts, especially on items you've been meaning to buy. But if you're going over budget or even racking up debt, then perhaps it's time to take a step back. You can see where your finances stand -- and what areas you need to improve -- by signing up for a free summary of your credit report, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.