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How to find the best sales on Black Friday + Cyber Monday

The biggest shopping weekend of the year is almost here and while it is super exciting, it can also be really overwhelming.

Supposed deals are everywhere right now, but all Black Friday deals are not created equal. Luckily, savvy shoppers have many tools to compare sales and track down the truly slashed prices.

Here are five ways to make sure you're getting the best Black Friday + Cyber Monday deals.

1. Arm yourself with apps before heading out

Even if you plan to do your Black Friday shopping the old-fashioned way (in the stores, Starbucks cup in hand) adding an online component to your shopping game plan can ensure you hit the shops strategically, knowing which items you want and which stores have the best prices on them.

Apps like TGIblackfriday and Flipp let you check out store flyers on your phone, and compare prices so you can be sure you're getting the best discount on the items on your list.

2. Make a list

A little pre-planning on these apps can help you get the best deal and avoid Black Friday impulse buys that are displayed as a sale item but aren't actually meaningfully discounted.

As NBC News reports, experts suggest making two lists before heading the stores—one of items you want for yourself and another list of items you want to give as gifts. Having a list can really help you stick to your Black Friday budget by keeping random "deals" out of your cart.

3. Get your browser prepped

If the majority of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping is going to be online, you should plan to use your computer, not your phone, because browser extensions can be a good secret weapon.

The PriceWaiter extension for Chrome allows users to haggle with retailers over select prices, so you can ask for a steeper discount than listed. The Coupons at Checkout Chrome extension will highlight discount codes so you don't miss out and the Price Rocket extension for Chrome provides automatic price comparisons and alerts for lower prices.

Other shopping extensions like EBates, Honey and Wikibuy can also come in handy.

4. Know which day to do your shopping

As CNBC reports, Black Friday isn't the best day for every deal. If you're looking for a new TV for example, Cyber Monday may be a better bet, and experts say a lot of the big Black Friday deals actually go live on Thanksgiving day, meaning Thursday may have more deals than Friday (if you're up for shopping after all that turkey). Target, Macy's and Best Buy are all among the retailers opening at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

5. Let Motherly find the deals for you

With so many retailers offering so many deals, it can be overwhelming to navigate this shopping season. Motherly will be curating deals and discounts during our Black Friday coverage, so check back with us while you do your shopping.

Happy bargain hunting!

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Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

We’re embracing off-season deals.

With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

Vacationing is a way to give back.

If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

This article was sponsored by Vrbo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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