By Stacy Johnson on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 7:22 PM

This post comes from Karla Bowsher at partner site Money Talks News.

To ensure you get the best deals at the best prices on both of these hot shopping days, just follow these tips from the mob-free comfort of your home.

 My mother has always said Black Friday price breaks aren’t worth parking a quarter-mile away, wrestling through mobs, and standing in line for three hours. Her logic rubbed off on me – until Cyber Monday came along in 2005.

 Now I say: Why brave Black Friday hysteria when you can snag similar deals from home (or, if you can get away with it, work) three days later? And I’m not alone. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Monday, Nov. 28, will be the most profitable day of the year for online retailers. It may even turn into a three-day Cyber Weekend this year.

Here are a few suggestions from ShopSmart magazine…

  1. Monitor social media: In addition to liking and following your favorite online stores, ShopSmart recommends Twitter account @DealCyberMonday.
  2. Let specialized websites track deals for you: The magazine recommends CyberMonday2011.com and DealsCyberMonday.org.
  3. Avoid shipping costs: Keep an eye out for free-shipping promo codes, which many stores’ websites offer to consumers who spend a certain amount. ShopSmart and I both like FreeShipping.org too.

But if you insist on going out on Black Friday, here are some tips to prepare so when it arrives you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck …

Step 1: Find deals now

Online ads: If you don’t subscribe to a tangible newspaper, I recommend ShopLocal.com, run by newspaper owner Gannett Company. The site’s Weekly Ads feature allows you to browse the same circulars that run in your local Sunday papers. On the downside, ShopLocal doesn’t offer the coupons you’d find in a newspaper, but there are plenty of coupon websites, including our Deals page.

 You can also check the websites of the stores you might shop at on Nov. 25. Most post their ads online. If not, try a site that specializes in Black Friday deals. ShopSmart recently recommended BFAds and BlackFriday.info.

 Social media: Wal-Mart announced earlier this month that, for the first time, it would offer their Facebook fans an “early, exclusive preview of its most highly sought-after Black Friday specials” – which they published on Nov. 10. This type of marketing strategy has become increasingly popular as more stores realize that one of the best ways to encourage consumers to join their social networks is to entice them with social media-exclusive offers.

 So “like” the Facebook pages and follow the tweets of the stores you may shop at on Black Friday. If the extra messages clutter your Facebook and Twitter feeds too much, unsubscribe after the holiday.

Step 2: Know your prices

Price-comparison sites: These self-explanatory websites allow you to plug in a product and find out which store sells it for the least. If you’ve never used one before, try Bizrate, Nextag, or Pricegrabber.

 Step 3: Don’t get burned

Return policies: Unless you want to eat the cost of a regrettable purchase or stick a loved one with an unwanted gift, check return policies before you shop. Nearly every reputable store posts its policy online, so there’s no excuse.

Return time windows range from 48 hours to forever, and some stores charge a restocking fee for returns. Knowing the policy in advance will lead to less stressful shopping.

 More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Save on Cyber Monday and Black Friday
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