Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 1.21.12 PMWith holidays often an expensive time for families, spenders should remain vigilant when shopping for gifts and household essentials. To score maximum savings, experts recommend shopping at specific times to take advantage of big sales or online bargains.

1. Beat Black Friday deals. The best way to score holiday bargains might be to wait for Cyber Monday. Last year, the biggest markdowns were on that day, followed by Thanksgiving (the biggest day for coupons), and Black Friday. Look for sales on electronics, but also expect more door buster in other categories, including clothing, home goods, and health and beauty items.

2. Buy groceries on Wednesday nights. grocery stores often start their sales on Wednesdays but may still honor the previous week’s deals. Many stories also get their deliveries on Monday & Tuesdays, so shoppers should find a good selection. And shopping later in the day means you might get extra markdown on bakery items, meat, produce, and other perishables.

3. Scope holiday bargains. To maximize savings, shoppers should plan their holiday shopping in advance. A good first step is to sneak a peek at sales on websites such as blackfriday.com, blackfriday.gottadeal.com, cybermonday.com, and cybermonday2014.com

4. Wait to buy. It can pay to hold off on buying toys and winter items, such as ski jackets and sleds, until the last minute because they tend to be cheaper right before the holidays. However, those who have a wish-list toy, or need a certain color and size, should not wait. Just choose a retailer that will issue a refund if the price drops.

5. Get gift cards for less. No present is easier than a gift card, especially those looking for a last-minute solution. But if they plan ahead, shoppers can buy gift cards for lees at warehouse clubs like BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club.

Source: Consumer Reports