For more than three years, I’ve worked at an online deals site called Brad’s Deals, which is, essentially, exactly what it sounds like: a website full of the best deals you can find online. I literally shop stores all day, every day all year round like it’s my job (‘cause, well, it kind of is), to find people the best deals on top-selling items and big name brands.

What’s a deal, you ask? Well, it can be anything from a site-wide sale at Kate Spade to a super low price on a hot selling product, like North Face jackets or UGGs.

That being said, you could say I’m somewhat of an expert when it comes to not only the art of buying, but shopping those insaneBlack Friday deals. Here’s a few of my top tips below. Stay safe and happy shopping!

Young businesswoman sitting at desk, smiling at laptop and raising both arms in the air

1. Avoid the madness by sticking to online shopping. Many of the deals you’ll find online are the exact same as you’ll see in-store, without any of the fear of being trampled. Better yet, many stores also offer free shipping specials during this time, ensuring that you’ll spend the exact same amount of money! And if they don’t? Pay particular attention to what the shipping thresholds are. If you’re only a few bucks away from saving $8 or $9, it might be worth it to add something small to your cart, as well. Some stores (*ahem* Macy’s) also allow you to avoid the fee when you add any beauty item to your cart (even if it’s just a Burt’s Bees lipgloss). It’s a win-win!

2. Don’t wait. While a rogue store or two will wait until actual Black Friday to release the goods, most leak their sales up to a week early these days, meaning there’s puh-lenty that’s up for grabs RIGHT NOW. So after you’re done enjoying your turkey and spending time with the fam, hop online to nab what you need before it sells out (as many of the best deals will).

Focused college student studying at computer

3. Do your homework. I get it: When you find the PERFECT item online, it can be oh-so-tempting to bust out that credit card and pull the trigger without a second thought. But since many stores (particularly department stores) have a lot of the same items on sale, it’s definitely worth a few extra minutes to do a quick Google search of where else you can find it. Those same $20 boots you wanted at JCPenney may be the same price at Carson’s with the added bonus of free shipping. Other stores might have bonus add-ons for cookware where others don’t. Unless it’s a brand that isn’t sold anywhere else (i.e. Anthropologie), shop around. Checking a site’s Black Friday ad prior to sales may give you a better idea of what you’re working with, to boot.

3. Look for codes. Most stores will have coupon codes that you can use to get an extra discount on your purchase. While some are totally, can’t-miss-‘em obvious, others may be well hidden, so you can check third party sites like Brad’s to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Even if an item isn’t explicitly marked with a code, It may be eligible for an extra discount, so be sure you’re trying all available codes at checkout. Bonus tip: If a code the site is advertising isn’t working, you may want to switch to a PC, since many aren’t compatible with mobile devices or tablets.

Girl (12-13) holding money fan against her face

5. Take advantage of rebates and bonus cash. Some specials will offer a rebate with your purchase that needs to be postmarked by a certain date. While it may be less than ideal (post-office lines around the holidays – UGH), it’s essentially unclaimed, thrown-away money if you don’t feel them out or send them in on time. And nobody likes throwing away free money! Similarly, you may earn incentives, such as bonus cash, with your purchase: These are great if you’re a regular shopper of a store. Who doesn’t want a free $20 to treat yo’self after all your gift giving days are over?

6. Don’t forget about Cyber Monday. While it doesn’t get quite the same hoopla as Black Friday does, when it comes to shopping online, some Cyber Monday deals are actually even better than the Black Friday ones! Don’t forget to go back on your favorite sites — you just might catch an unexpected steal!

What’s your best Black Friday shopping tip? Share with us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Ale Ventura, Hero Images + Jamie Grill/Getty)