Money

The single best day to score great deals isn't actually Black Friday

People carry retail shopping bags during Black Friday events on November 25, 2016 in New York City.
Getty Images
People carry retail shopping bags during Black Friday events on November 25, 2016 in New York City.

Black Friday is the most famous shopping day of the year. Millions of of bargain-hungry shoppers flock to the stores to cash in on big sales.

But the best deals aren't only found on the infamous Friday after Thanksgiving. In fact, when it comes to scoring deals, "technically, as a single day, Thanksgiving is better than Black Friday," says Lindsay Sakraida, the director of content marketing for Dealnews, a comparison shopping website.

"Black Friday is still very strong," she tells CNBC Make It, "but a lot of the big deals are going to go live on Thanksgiving Day." The holiday is, "unfortunately, the better of the two days."

More and more stores are even rolling out sales before Thanksgiving in an effort to get ahead of competitors, says Sakraida, who recommends checking for sales as early as the Monday before Thanksgiving.

"Cyber Monday [after Thanksgiving] is a big day as well," she notes, "but typically for different types of items." While Thanksgiving week traditionally means lower prices on a variety of tech products, "Cyber Monday, despite the name, is a lot better for clothing, cosmetics, grooming and travel deals. Plus, a lot of high-end luxury brands tend to offer discounts on Cyber Monday."

Whether you're shopping on the week of Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you'll want to have a plan in place to avoid overspending.

Start by determining exactly how much you can afford to part with. Once you have a budget in mind, do your research, says Sakraida: "Definitely do historical price research to get a quick assessment of whether or not the prices you're seeing are actually good."

She recommends using camelcamelcamel, a free Amazon price tracker, or doing a Google search to get an idea of how different stores price various items.

While you're at it, check out similar items or slightly different models of whatever it is you're looking for, she says: "If you're dead set on one specific model, you may be blind to the other discounts that exist on very similar alternatives. Keeping an open mind and being a little bit flexible with what you end up buying, within reason, is definitely a good tactic."

Finally, avoid impulse purchases. One of the biggest mistakes consumers make over Black Friday weekend, says Sakraida, "is buying things that they weren't planning on buying beforehand and that don't fit a specific need."

If you discover a discount on something that you were actually planning on buying, go for it, but resist the temptation to buy things just because they're on sale.

"The reason Black Friday exists is to bring you in with the really cheap, rock-bottom prices in the hopes that you do jump on those filler deals while you're there," says Sakraida. "Being really aware of that and trying to avoid that temptation is important."

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!

Don't miss: You might be spending twice as much money as you think you are online shopping