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When we talk about major shopping events during the holiday season, we tend to think of Black Friday -- a day when crowds flock to the stores at the crack of dawn in the hopes of scoring the best deals possible. But there's another huge shopping event to capitalize on during the holidays -- Cyber Monday.
Cyber Monday is, to a large degree, Black Friday's calmer, more civilized counterpart. Since all of it happens online, there's no need for shoving at the checkout aisle. You simply log onto your laptop or phone from the comfort of home and point and click your way to a collection of deals. But making the most of Cyber Monday still requires some careful planning. Here are some tips for navigating it.
1. Set a budget
When you do your shopping in stores, you have the option to bring only cash with you and leave your credit cards at home, eliminating the temptation to go overboard. But when you do your shopping online, cash won't work, so you'll need to be very careful to avoid landing in debt. That's why setting a Cyber Monday budget is so important. Figure out how much you can comfortably afford to spend throughout the day and then keep tabs on your purchases to ensure you stick to that number. Otherwise, you could wind up with a dangerously high credit card balance by the time the big event wraps up.
2. Fill and save your carts ahead of time
Chances are, a lot of the items on your shopping list will go on sale during Cyber Monday, so loading shopping carts with those items on your go-to retail sites is good to do in advance. That way, you'll get to see how much prices fall on Cyber Monday, and you'll know whether you're getting a good deal or not. You'll also be able to compare carts at different sites to see which prices are the most competitive.
3. Check the timing of deals
Some retailers will drop different deals at different times during Cyber Monday. Try to figure out when those deals will be made available ahead of time so you don't miss out. Also, since Cyber Monday falls on, well, a Monday, it means you'll probably need to balance your online shopping with work. Having a schedule will help you land the deals you want without falling behind on the job and angering your boss in the process.
4. Limit yourself to just a few retail sites
On a day like Cyber Monday, it's natural to want to snag the best deals. But if you attempt to shop on too many websites, you might end up losing focus, missing out on bargains, and going beyond your budget. A good bet is to limit yourself to a handful of retailers to make the day less overwhelming. Pick your top three or four in advance, fill those carts beforehand to compare prices, and leave it at that.
5. Use a rewards card to score cash back on your purchases
The upside of having to shop with a credit card is getting to rack up rewards that could translate into serious cash back. Take a look at your credit cards and figure out which make the most sense to use on Cyber Monday from a rewards perspective. For example, if you have a card with revolving bonus reward point categories and this is the quarter it's being more generous with department stores, you'll want to use that card for department store purchases on Cyber Monday.
Cyber Monday offers a solid opportunity to load up on deals without having to leave your home. Plan accordingly, and you're more likely to close out the day with a whole lot of savings.