There are plenty of reasons to avoid the holiday crowds on this hectic shopping weekend. The most dedicated extreme coupon clippers want to supplement the items they got on Black Friday. Others are interested in not getting crushed to death. Since many of the lowest discounts are found online, a Cyber Monday battle plan is what you need to save money on early shopping for Christmas, Hanukkah, and other seasonal occasions. Here is how to find the best deal on Cyber Monday.
Part I: Make a Plan.
Just like any other major purchase, it’s a good idea to know exactly how much money you can spend during Christmastime. Drafting a shopping plan for Cyber Monday involves knowing your financial means, figuring out who to shop for, researching different retailers, and then working out the best deals.
1. Research different sales.
Some shoppers start as early as the year before. But if you are getting started, you don’t need an entire year to do some research. The best way to do this is to subscribe to the social media feeds and email newsletters for the stores you're looking to shop from. As a rule, all major retailers have email newsletters, a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Pinterest collection; all of which have great deals. Subscribers are the first ones to learn news about special discounts and rewards.
Don’t neglect to do your online research. Black Friday and Cyber Monday predictions are available for popular goods like HDTV's, laptops, Apple products, tablets, smartphones, gaming and toys, streaming media and Blu-rays, clothing deals, and home appliances.
As the big day approaches, the top Cyber Monday sales will be made available from stores like Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Best Buy, Sears, and Macy’s. You should bookmark the sites that you plan to visit on Cyber Monday. They are collected on one page that resembles an old newspaper advertisement, except that it can be narrowed down with a search engine.
Now is not the time to try out an unfamiliar store, especially if it seems suspicious. Stick to secure sites with strong reputations. Make sure that you are familiar with each company’s shipping and return policy, so that there are no unpleasant surprises later on.
2. Set a budget, somehow.
Hopefully, you have been keeping track of wished-for items from your preferred retailers, because prices are lower than any other time of year. Now, you have to figure out how much money you have, and how much you can afford to spend on the holidays.
There are different ways to do this and no single one of them is the best. Some budgetnistas like to save money throughout the year so that there is a significant stash for Christmas gifts. Others prefer to squirrel away gifts that they acquire on random shopping occasions. If it helps, you can put a certain amount in your PayPal account for Cyber Monday, so you will not be tempted to go over. Or, do some old-fashioned budgeting and decide how much you have to spend on each person/gift without going over.
Remember, you have other expenses to consider as well, such as gift wrap, decorations, a delicious feast, holiday travel arrangements, the Christmas tree, and Secret Santas. Be sure to factor all of these into your budget to keep from pushing over your limit.
3. Determine what you want.
It is only when you decide what you must have that you can finally determine the lowest possible price. Now that you know how much money you have, it is time to decide who you are shopping for. Thus, it will be much easier to make a list of what to buy them. We’ll come back to the list in Part II.
4. Look for a coupon.
Never forget to check for a coupon. Most chain stores should send out an email that has their Cyber Monday coupon codes. CouponPal has a section dedicated entirely to Cyber Monday coupons, or just search for the store in question.
Department stores and boutiques are definitely offering coupon codes on top of their Cyber Monday events. If you are planning to buy clothes and accessories, you may as well skip the Black Friday mayhem and shop from the sofa at home; possibly wrapped up in your favorite blanket with a hot beverage.
Part II: Cyber Monday - The Day of...
When Cyber Week arrives, you have a short window of time to complete your online shopping and find the best deals. This is what you have been training for. Go off into Internet-land and find those bargains!
1. Set your alarm, or don’t.
You can start shopping the Cyber Monday sales as early as midnight because some of the best deals are limited as to what's in stock. When they are gone, they are gone for good, so it might be better to stay up late if you are after a hot ticket item.
Sleep through CM and wake up in a panic thinking the deals are gone? You shouldn’t have an anxiety attack just yet, because you have several days to shop. At least shop sometime during Cyber Week, when deals are still better than most other times. Black Friday is by far the top spending day of the year for consumers. But, Cyber Monday is not actually the biggest day of the year for online sales. Most people wait until the week before Christmas because that’s the absolute deadline to ship a package and have it arrive on time.
2. Don’t deviate from the plan.
Professional shoppers and budgeting experts agree that it is vital to stick to your budget if you want to save money. That means no last minute impulse buys, or paying three times as much for something you could do yourself. Sales people will do anything to inspire and delight you with shiny objects and pretty lights, but you have to be strong. Stick to the plan!
Remember step two when you were supposed to make a list? Organization and careful planning can help keep you on budget and focused with your shopping efforts. Stick to the list and you won’t make impulse buys.
3. Keep your receipts.
Part of finding the best deal on a prized object is ensuring that it lasts. Hang onto the email copies of your receipts for future reference. If something goes wrong in transit and your package does not arrive, you will need proof of purchase. What if you buy the wrong cords or batteries and you need to exchange them? Additionally, the warranty on most electronics and appliances is validated by a receipt. You will need it as proof of purchase, should you need a replacement for some reason.
That concludes how to shop on Cyber Monday. Happy bargain hunting! For more tips on how to save money on this season’s festivities, check out these helpful blog articles on holiday shopping.