Braving Black Friday crowds isn't the only way to bargain

Shopgirl

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Black Friday has never been a big priority for me. Though I love to save, on the day after Thanksgiving I'm usually somewhere down a country road with family.

Black Friday is certainly a fantastic time to get deals -- and when you pick up your newspaper this and Friday morning, you'll feel the weight of it. If you're not looking to brave the crowds, it's not the only time you can get savings on style. Here are some tricks I've learned to save after Black Friday:

KEEP LOOKING FOR COUPONS: The great thing about sale notices and coupons is that they're already in paper format for you, so it's easier to plan where you'll go and what you might need. They're not just for Black Friday, though you might find the biggest savings that day.

CHECK DEAL BLOGS AND WEB SITES: My favorite, The Budget Fashionista (thebudgetfashionista.com), often has links to deals and coupon codes.

CHECK IN: Some larger chains, such as American Eagle and Gap, run specials on location-based social networks such as Foursquare and Facebook Places. If you're on these networks, make sure to check in so you can get your savings.

SIGN UP FOR E-MAILS: Some stores will e-mail when they're having special sale events. If you shop at a store often, or if you have your eye on a pricier item somewhere, sign up for its e-mail list. Discount retailer TJ Maxx sends e-mails when new shipments come in, so you can be alerted and get first dibs on the new crop of inventory.

SHOP AFTER THE SALES: I got my favorite wool J. Crew dress at a store the day after a big sale. There were shorter lines and fewer crowds, though less selection. You might luck out and get something that's been marked down again as stores try to move sale items out the door.

SHOP ONLINE: Besides Cyber Monday (the Monday after Black Friday), Web sites can have a larger selection of sale items, and if you check at the right time, there will be free shipping, at least free shipping for some dollar amounts. Sephora's Web site usually has great deals with discount codes for items bought online, viewed by clicking on "weekly specials."

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