Cyber Monday — the first Monday after Thanksgiving — is gaining traction over Black Friday for great holiday-shopping buys, thanks to the internet.
“Black Friday may still be the single best day to shop for price, but Cyber Monday gives some retailers, particularly online-only ones, a chance to shine,” says Edgar Dworsky, founder of the consumer resource guide Consumer World.
The numbers don’t lie: According to the Adobe Digital Insights, online shopping on Cyber Monday will increase by 11 percent year over year in 2016.
Be a savvy shopper this year on Monday, Nov. 28. Here are a few key strategies to save money.
Make a list and, yes, check it twice. Create a list or spreadsheet with the names of the recipients, gift ideas and addresses. By staying organized, you’ll avoid accidentally buying three gifts for your co-worker and none for your sister. If you have all the addresses in front of you, you also can take advantage of Cyber Monday’s myriad free shipping deals to save money, says Andrea Woroch, a consumer money expert.
“Search for free shipping codes, and send your gift directly to the recipients,” she says. “You’ll save money by shipping the present just once, and you can avoid costly baggage fees if you might otherwise pack them in your luggage on a flight.”
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Do research on the best prices
The best deal-hunters are well-prepared when they start their Monday purchasing. Take inventory of what you need and your list of holiday gifts, and head out on the Internet highway to save money, says J. Brian Preston, a financial planner at Preston & Cleveland Wealth Management LLC in McDonough, Georgia, and host of “The Money Guy Show,” a podcast and blog.
“You can find the best products by doing research on a site like ConsumerReports.org, and then check current prices at a site like PriceGrabber.com,” he says.
Once you have context, head to sites such as CyberMonday.com to compare your needs with what will be offered. Dworsky says that Black Friday circulars can serve as a benchmark for your Cyber Monday shopping.
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Pay attention to extra costs
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Sometimes, what you see isn’t really what you get. Shipping, handling and taxes can easily double the cost of a low-priced holiday gift, says Dworsky.
“Recognize that the attractive price on the website may not include those extra costs, and sites may not disclose those fees until well after you’ve put the item in your cart,” he says. “If it costs you an extra $10 to buy a single $10 item, you’re not getting much of a deal.”
Before you click “buy” on Cyber Monday, make sure you know the final cost — and how it measures up to deals at other sites. That’s the only way to save money.
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Find out if your deal is a ‘door-buster’
Some of the best deals on Cyber Monday have an extremely limited supply. That means you’ll have to be at the front of the virtual line to take advantage of the offer and save money.
“Look for any indication of limited quantities, then check the email or website to find out when the sale starts,” and plan accordingly, says Dworsky. “Don’t think you can roll out of bed at 2 p.m. on Monday to get a deal on an item with a rock-bottom price.”
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Use the wisdom of the crowds
Bargain message boards like Slickdeals.net and FatWallet.com are virtual gold mines to save money. On a big shopping day like Cyber Monday, you’ll find fantastic up-to-date surprises, says Dworsky.
“Sometimes you’ll find out about a deal that not a lot of people know about,” he says. “It’s also valuable because someone may post with what seems like a great deal, but subsequent posters will note that there’s a better deal at another site or how to get an additional 10 percent off. It’s a great word-of-mouth way to find out what’s going to be available at a good price.”
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Don’t get sidetracked by unneeded items
Your mission on Cyber Monday is to get the gifts you need at the price you want, not to save money on stuff you’ll never use, says Preston.
“Don’t just buy something because it’s practically free. That’s just noise that’s distracting you from getting what you need.”
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Stack up coupons and save
One coupon on Cyber Monday is great to save money, but two are even better, says Woroch.
“Stacking coupons is when a retailer allows you to use more than one coupon on the same offer,” she says.
For example, you might be able to add a 20 percent off coupon to a code for free shipping. While not all retailers allow this practice, there are a few major stores that do, including Target and Sears.