9 top Cyber Monday tips
With these tricks, you could save as much money on Cyber Monday as you did on Black Friday -- all without leaving your house, wasting gas or waiting in line.
This post comes from Karla Bowsher at partner site Money Talks News.
U.S. shoppers spent $59.1 billion over the long Thanksgiving weekend, with an unprecedented 41% of that via retailers' websites, says the National Retail Federation.
"Eight in 10 retailers surveyed by Shop.org, the online division of the National Retail Federation, said they planned to offer Cyber Monday discounts, while 58% of people with Internet access at the office say they plan to shop online during the workday," reports The Washington Post.
Americans are expected to spend $1.5 billion online today, up 20% from last year. Here are some tips for maximizing your Cyber Monday shopping:
Scope out the sales. Browse dedicated sites like CyberMonday2012.com, check ads and visit your favorite stores' websites.
Comparison shop. To ensure you pay the lowest online price, enter an item in the search engine of a price-comparison website. I prefer PriceGrabber.com, but I also check Bizrate.com and Nextag.com just to be sure.
Check the return policy. This is especially important if you're buying a gift. To avoid sticking a loved one (or yourself) with an unwanted purchase, check out "Best and worst return policies for 2012 gifts," which offers instructions for interpreting return policies for online purchases.
Use a secure Internet connection. Unprotected Wi-Fi networks, like the ones you may access at coffee shops or bookstores, make it easier for identity thieves to intercept your personal information, including credit or debit card details.
Shop secure websites. Instead of the standard http://, look for the https:// protocol in front of a store's website address in your browser (the "s" stands for "secure"). You may also see a lock symbol, another indication of a secure website, next to the website address. If you don't see either, check whether the store offers a secure checkout option like PayPal.
Check for coupons and promo codes. To ensure you're not overlooking extra savings, search your favorite coupon aggregator and also use a search engine to look for the item name and "coupon code" or "promo code."
Avoid shipping costs if possible. Keep an eye out for free-shipping promo codes, which many stores offer to shoppers who spend a certain amount. You should also always search FreeShipping.org before making an online purchase.
Pay with a discounted gift card. Some websites, like Plastic Jungle, sell electronic versions. (However, Plastic Jungle says its e-codes may take about 24 hours to be emailed to you if you've never bought one before.)
Get a rebate. Rebate websites like Ebates, Big Crumbs and Extrabux essentially pay you to shop online.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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