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How to make the most out of Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday has established itself as the biggest online shopping day of the year, partially because Black Friday is now so spread out (starting on Thanksgiving and lasting through the weekend). Because Cyber Monday has become so commonplace with holiday shoppers, and every retailer participates, it offers us an opportunity to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends and wait for more big savings online after the weekend. After all, there are plenty of holiday gift items on sale well into December.

If you do plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, here’s a few tips to help you make smarter purchases and save more money.

Make a shopping list and do some early research

You may not plan to shop on Black Friday, or even if you do, there will be plenty of sales and ads to look over to get an idea of the price of the items on your list. Sites like FatWallet.com are a one-stop resource to review all the holiday deals from hundreds of top stores. Mark these sale items as favorites for reference later and share them with friends and family for their input. You may even find a good early deal in the process and get some of your shopping out of the way.

Start shopping on Sunday

The past couple of years, many online retailers have started releasing Cyber Monday deals early on Sunday afternoon. Even if you don’t want to buy right away and wait for Monday when every store will have their sales items available, bookmark the sites that have items on sale on your list so you can quickly compare other stores’ sale items on Monday before you make your final purchasing choice.

Look for free shipping, or free in-store pickup

With so many stores competing for your business online during the big holiday promotions, one or more will offer free shipping as a way to help you increase your savings. Generally, free shipping can save $5-10 on regular-sized items and quite a bit more on larger, heavier items like TVs, laptops and appliances. If you need items right away and can’t wait for them to be shipped, look for free in-store pickup as an option when you’re shopping online. This is especially helpful during Black Friday when the stores are very crowded in the morning, but less active at night.

Take advantage of cash back and coupons to add savings

Many stores will offer discounts in their ad, but they may require a coupon code in order to get the full discount at checkout. FatWallet.com is a site that lists thousands of coupons and cash back savings from more than 1,600 stores. Once Cyber Monday shoppers know what store they want to purchase, from they can go to FatWallet to review the cash back and coupons the store is offering, then click through the offer to go make their purchase. The shopper can use the coupon at the store and FatWallet will reward the shopper with cash back. Plus, many stores will significantly increase their cash back for Cyber Monday, providing even more savings.

Check on return policies and stick to your list

Most major retailers will allow returns for a certain time period, so be sure there’s enough time to return your purchase if it’s a gift for late in December. Cyber Monday can be overwhelming as retailers can make it seem like everything is on sale and it’s easy to get distracted. It’s best to stick to your list and avoid buying any add-ons, warranties or accessories, often offered at checkout, unless you’ve done your research and know the price is a good deal.

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