Black Friday's best 2022 deals may be on TikTok, creators share tips

For Americans who have spent months penny-counting to combat inflation, it may be tempting to splurge on holiday gifts, especially when songs like "All I Want for Christmas Is You" are blasting in stores.

But this year, in particular, splurging on gifts won't cost as much as in prior years if you're smart about how you shop, couponers on TikTok told USA TODAY. 

The holiday shopping season started unusually early this year. Well before Halloween, retailers started courting shoppers with deals and promotional events comparable to Black Friday. That's because retailers are getting stuck with more inventory than they anticipated as inflation hovers at 40-year high and financially-strapped consumers are spending more money on necessities such as groceries, gas and housing.

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Karla Benavides, whose TikTok account, KarlaSavings, has more than a million followers, said she started holiday shopping in June. As a mother of four children, she wanted to get the best possible deals on toys like Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels and said that the summer is usually when there are the biggest toy sales. 

“(Retailers) want to get rid of last season's items to bring out the new season's items then,” Benavides said. “When you're trying to stretch that dollar you really don't care if something is this season or last season.”

But don't worry – if you haven't started holiday shopping, there are plenty of good deals to scoop up. 

Here's what three popular couponers on TikTik recommend doing to maximize your savings:

Download Target, Walmart and other store apps 

Most big retailers have their own apps and reward programs.

For instance, Target has Circle, a free rewards program that offers cash back on purchases and grants access to deals. If you have the app, you can add deals to your virtual wallet and scan it at the checkout to avoid otherwise paying full price for items, said Rosie Keomala, who runs the TikTik account CityCouponMom with over 1 million followers.

Or if you don't want to download the app, you can usually log in through a web browser in stores.

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Black Friday started early this year. But if you haven't started holiday shopping yet, there are plenty of ways to save.

Pay attention to Amazon lightning deals and coupons 

Throughout the year, Amazon offers lightning deals. These are deals that typically last for less than 24 hours or until the maximum number of customers claim it. During the holiday season, Amazon tends to run more of these deals, said Benavides, 27, who spends hours each day tracking Amazon deals. 

She shares her findings including promotional codes she discovers on her TikTok page and in a Telegram group she started. 

When shopping on Amazon, she recommends taking a moment to pause before you click purchase because there could be hidden coupons right on the listing. 

Listings will clearly advertise markdowns, “and then in very little letters it says, 'Oh, there's a coupon for $5 off, as well.' Most people miss that.”

You can also browse through Amazon's coupon page to automatically have them applied to your purchases. 

Shop at CVS, Walgreens and other drugstores

Drugstores may not be your first thought when it comes to holiday shopping. But in recent years, they've upped their game in terms of their toy selection and gift sets, said Benavides, who is based in Los Angeles. 

Last week, she discovered a holiday gift set at CVS listed for $10. But there was an in-store coupon for $4 off it and on top of that, you get $5 in ExtraBucks to apply to any future CVS purchase.

Use Ibotta and TopCashBack

Jeimy Cruz, whose couponing account on TikTok, @CoupingCraz, has nearly 200,000 followers, said she uses an app called Ibotta to get cash back on purchases. 

The app gives you cash back on certain items across a variety of popular stores such as Walmart, Target and Costco. Once you add the promotions to your account, you scan your receipt in the app and  claim the money through PayPal or request a gift card. 

For instance, on Friday there was a $2.50 cash back deal on a $40 Harry Potter LEGO set sold at Walmart.

"It's just another way to build your little savings for other things that we can't normally coupon for," she said.

TopCashBack is another app she uses to save money. All you have to do is purchase items through the app from a select list of retailers including BestBuy, Apple and Macy's, and you'll receive a certain percentage of cash back that you can get deposited into PayPal or a bank account.

Like Benavides, she also has a Telegram group where she posts coupons and other deals she comes across. One deal she recently discovered was $100 off a Nespresso machine. 

Try leaving items in your cart for a day

Unless it's something that's in really high demand, retailers often will try to win shoppers back who left something in their cart with discounts, said Cruz, who is 27 and lives in Vancouver, Washington.

Elisabeth Buchwald is a personal finance and markets correspondent for USA TODAY. You can follow her on Twitter @BuchElisabeth and sign up for our Daily Money newsletter here