Secrets to saving big on holiday shopping

The holidays are here, which means the shopping season is in full gear and millennials already have a head start.

According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 65 percent of older millennials, age 25-34, are already making a dent in their shopping lists and more than 50 percent agree that retailers’ deals have been excellent so far.

“Millennials are already looking forward to shopping over Thanksgiving weekend in stores and online more than the average adult surveyed,” said Kathy Allen, spokesperson for the organization. According to its research, it expects far more millennials shopping than the other generations — particularly because of their preference for deals.

A whopping 80 percent of millennial shoppers said they are interested in mobile app notifications on holiday sales, according to mobile media company Wanderful Media. But that’s not to say they are opposed to the old-fashioned way of saving. In fact, 18- to 34-year-olds are using traditional paper coupons — or coupons printed from websites or emails — more than twice as much as any other method, according to

So as you start your holiday shopping, here’s what some millennials already know about the best ways to get the most bang for your buck and stay within a budget:

They say timing is everything and the time to shop is around Thanksgiving. “This weekend, Wednesday through Monday, has really proven to be the best weekend to shop in the holiday season,” said Brad Wilson, founder of coupon and savings website Brad’s Deals. If you want to keep it simple and easy, just show up then and you are guaranteed to save, Wilson said.

For example, one of the best bargains this season, according to Brad’s Deals, will be on the 55-inch LG Smart TV, originally $1,199.99, marked down to $698 at Wal-Mart but ONLY if you go between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Nov. 26 — Thanksgiving Day.

But showing up to shop on Thanksgiving weekend is only half the battle in winning the price wars. If you really want to maximize your holiday budget, you also have to “layer.” Nope, not your clothing … your coupons. Go to the retailer’s website and check for special offers, download the retailer’s app, sign up for emails and check comparison coupon sites. In many cases those deals can be combined to save substantially.

For example, a KitchenAid mixer from Kohl’s can be scored for just $100, down from $450 by using a direct-mail coupon, Kohl’s cash, loyalty rewards program points and a rebate, but only through Black Friday.

Read More Surviving Black Friday: How to set a budget and stick to it

If you are still struggling to keep the holiday spending under control, many financial experts suggest sticking with cash. Get out the amount of cash you can afford to spend this holiday season and once that is done, so is your shopping, advised Howard Pressman, a certified financial planner at Egan, Berger & Weiner in Vienna, Virginia.

But for big-ticket purchases like a television, some credit cards do have added benefits for your purchase. The Visa Signature card and American Express, for example, will double your warranty up to a year for no extra cost. “If you buy a TV, computer or any bigger-ticket item, the one-year warranty will likely get increased to two years and you don’t even need to do anything,” Wilson said. Just be wary of deferred-interest deals that could bite you in the end.

Read More Beware of deferred interest credit cards

“Do your homework,” Allen said. “There is no question that the prices will be extremely low and deals will be fantastic because it is so competitive [for retailers].” But be realistic about your budget, shop at the right time, and collect and combine coupons to maximize the deals out there and get the gifts you want at the best prices.

Even if you have the cash to spend, it always feels good to nab a nice deal.

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