Tips to find the best deals while shopping for the holidays

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Hard to believe the holidays are on the horizon - again! Which means so too, are Black Friday price-drops -- and Cyber Monday specials! But do sales like these truly offer the discounts they suggest? Consumer Reports tells us how to really get the best deals.

Rachel Barer and her mom, Amy love the thrill of a Black Friday bargain. "I feel like I'm getting better deals, so I'm going buy more than I usually would if I went and was getting no deals," she said.

That 'feeling' is exactly what retailers are banking on, according to the financial team at Consumer Reports. "Just the idea that you're getting a bargain, can affect a center of your brain that can cloud your reasoning and make you open your wallet," said Margot Gilman, Consumer Reports Money Editor. "Of course, retailers know this and play on it, by offering deals that really might not be such good bargains."

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So, how do shoppers know when they're getting a real steal? "Go in with your eyes wide open and with a healthy sense of skepticism -- and take advantage of tools that exist, many apps, that will help you track prices -- so you know when a deal is really a bargain," Gilman said.

Before you buy, browser extensions such as "The Camelizer," "Invisible-Hand," or "Price Blink" -- scour the web for the best deals.

Price Alerts, such as "Camel Camel Camel," "Price-Tracker," "Shop it to Me," and "Slick-Deals," tell you when prices for the items have dropped.

And, price comparison apps like "Buy Via," "Now Discount," "Scan Life," and "Shop Savvy" can tell you if there's a better deal out there online or even at a local store.

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While you're shopping, coupon apps such as "Coupon Sherpa" or "Snip-Snap" offer discounts to use at check out.

"What do you think about this for grandma?," Amy Barer asked her daughter, Rachel.

Resources to help shoppers like Rachel and Amy really get all that they bargained for.

Want price protection even after you've shopped? Price adjustment apps continue to search the web after you charge something -- and initiate a refund if prices drop on something you've already bought. But you may have to expose your bank and credit card information, for the apps to work.

Take a look at all of 7 On Your Side's stories with Consumer Reports here.

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