Before you leave the Thanksgiving table or wake up early on Black Friday to hit the stores, it's important to have a plan. Both shopping days (as well as the weekend after and Cyber Monday) offer great deals, but your key to saving the most money on Black Friday is to know what you're doing before you walk out the door.

Over the past few weeks, writers at The Motley Fool have been digging into every aspect of how you can save the most money during the holiday shopping season. We've broken down the shopping season from Thanksgiving through Christmas from every angle to help you save the most money and emerge without doing major damage to your personal finances.

Here is a collection of our best advice.

A person carries a shopping bag with the words Black Friday on it.

For many, Black Friday actually begins on Thanksgiving. Image source: Getty Images.

Protect your bottom line

It's only saving money if you buy something you need at a lower-than-normal price. If you make poorly thought-out purchases or fall for discounts that trick you into exceeding your budget, you didn't save -- you spent money you shouldn't have (or worse, didn't have).

These pieces will help you avoid breaking the bank this holiday season.

Your 4-Point Checklist for Crushing Black Friday

4 Things You Shouldn't Buy on Black Friday

I Broke My Rule About Shopping on Black Friday. Here's What I Learned

5 Holiday Shopping Mistakes to Avoid This Season

How to Have a Debt-Free Holiday Season

Can You Afford to Blow an Entire Paycheck on the Holidays?

3 Ways to Save Money on Holiday Travel

8 Mistakes to Avoid During the Holiday Shopping Season

77% of Americans Will Make This Major Holiday Shopping Mistake

Most Americans Set, Then Exceed, a Holiday Budget

Most Shoppers Racked Up Holiday Debt Last Year -- and Will Make the Same Mistake Again This Year

Holiday Stats and data

The holiday season has been changing. The days of people camping outside of stores in order to save big on a single item have mostly gone away. Instead, the shopping season has gotten longer and understanding what's different, what other people do, and what retailers are thinking will help you be ready.

Black Friday Isn't Dead, but It's Dying

Guess Who Spent the Most on the Holidays Last Year?

Holiday 2017: The Truth About the "Retail Apocalypse"

This Is Why Retailers Should Open on Thanksgiving

4 Stats That Will Make You Hate Black Friday

4 Reasons Why Black Friday Is the Worst Day of the Year to Shop

Not Dead Yet: Shoppers Will Give Physical Stores a Chance on Black Friday

The holidays and work

For most people, except those who work in retail and other service-related fields, the holiday season offers a bit of a break. Many of us get a few days off in order to recharge our batteries, see friends and family, or just relax. But that can come at a cost... here are a few tips to avoid falling behind. 

How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Falling Behind at Work

4 Reasons Not to Take Time Off During the Holidays

Retailers, Black Friday, and the holidays

Not every retailer approaches the holiday shopping season the same way. In some cases, what each chain does or how it operates offers different opportunities for consumers. In other cases, the health of certain retailers should be a red flag for consumers even when the deals offered look pretty great.

Which Retailers Are Actually Open on Thanksgiving? (And Which are Closed) 

Here's What 7 Big Retailers Have Planned for Black Friday

Wal-Mart Takes the Holiday Fight to Amazon

Even Black Friday Can't Save Sears -- Here's Why

Here's What Costco Is Doing for Black Friday

Is an Amazon Prime Membership Worth It for Black Friday Alone?

Is a Costco Membership Worth It for Black Friday Alone?

How to recover

Sometimes even the most-careful planners make mistakes. Maybe you got caught up in the season or perhaps a major unexpected expense popped up at the last minute. For whatever reason, if holiday shopping busted your long-term budget, there are ways to recover.

How to Recover From the Holidays in 4 Easy Steps

Holiday Spending Hangover? Here's How to Recover

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.