Let’s face it, nobody actually likes Black Friday. Sure, the sales are great, but you’re not really in the spirit of the holiday season if you’re among a bargain crazed horde willing to trample their fellow man simply to get the last digital camera, or Elmo doll, at a slightly discounted price. For those of us who prefer to not treat the holidays like a UFC match, and instead opt for the serenity of shopping online, there’s Cyber Monday — a day of deals just as good as Black Friday that doesn’t require you to leave your family on Thanksgiving night and act like you’re auditioning to be on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge in the middle of a retail store.
The lone issue with Cyber Monday is the sheer vastness of the internet. Sure, you’re getting a good deal, but are you getting the best deal? There’s always that lingering thought that maybe you should check another site, and another, and another, and then Cyber Monday becomes Christmas Eve, and you no longer have to worry about gifts because you haven’t seen your family or friends in over a month.
So, how do you rock Cyber Monday, and finish all your holiday shopping in one shot? Here are the Top 5 ways to make the task a heck of a lot easier.
5.) Sign Up For Email Lists
Yeah yeah, we all hate spam, but this wouldn’t be spam, this would be getting emails from the places where you plan on shopping on Cyber Monday.
Why sign up for the email list when you know you’re going to the site anyway? Easy: many websites give a discount to first time email list subscribers. For some, it’s a percentage off, for others it’s a dollar amount off. Either way, it’s a completely painless way of potentially saving quite a bit on your Cyber Monday purchases.
4.) Search For Coupon Codes
This one can be tough. You know how they say you need to kiss a lot of frogs before finding your prince? Or, if you’re Mario of Super Mario Bros. fame, you’re gonna have to go through a lot of castles before you find the Princess? It’s kind of like that with online coupon codes.
That said, it can be well worth the effort. Googling the name of the store where you plan on shopping + “coupon code” will give you a plethora of sites with potential discount offers.
Some of the offers will have expired, and some simply won’t work, but when you get one that does work, what it can do to the total in your online shopping cart is pretty amazing.
Pro Tip: Many sites will tell how many people a specific coupon code worked for. Pay attention to that number!
3.) Know Your Free Shipping Minimum
A deal isn’t really a deal if all the money you saved ends up going to shipping fees.
Confusing matters, not every site’s free shipping minimum is the same, and even worse, that number can fluctuate. So a site that featured free shipping at $25 a month ago may randomly decide tomorrow to change that number to $49.
Once you know a site’s free shipping minimum, start seeing how much of your Cyber Monday shopping you can accomplish there. If you’re only looking for one or two things for a person, it may make sense to find a site that’s less specialized and combine a few people’s gift lists.
2.) Don’t be Tied Down to a Singular Gift Idea
Nothing can sidetrack your Cyber Monday shopping quicker than a gift you’re looking to buy no longer being available. Some folks have long lists for each person they’re shopping for, and if one item isn’t there, they simply look for the next item. While that’s all well and good, don’t be afraid to be a little creative, and embrace the unknown.
If that rare album, first edition book, trendy sweater or cordless drill, isn’t available, a DVD of one of that particular artist’s concerts, an anthology of that particular author’s work, something nice that would go with clothing your friend already owns, or a totally different power tool your friend could use, are easy alternate options.
If you’d like to go even further outside the box, on sites like Amazon every item has suggestions attached to it under “Frequently bought together,” “Customers who bought this item also bought,” and “Customers who viewed this item also viewed.” Dive into those sections, even after you’ve found the gift you plan on buying.
Speaking from experience, I have stumbled upon some amazing movies by clicking around those sections. I’m talking about movies I didn’t even know existed. What will you find? Hey, you won’t know until you go!
1.) Budget, Then Bargain Hunt
While it’s nice to have a list of potential gifts for each person you’re shopping for, also consider having a specific budget.
A budget can allow you to be more creative, especially if you know how to shop. What do we mean by “know how to shop?” This isn’t about extending your credit cards to their limit, it’s about extending your dollar for maximum possible giftage.
Once you have a budget in mind, dive into the clearance sections of your favorite sites. There’s a good chance you’ll find something on a sale so good it will allow you to either pick up a second gift for that person, or pay one of your bills (don’t forget you have those!).
Just last month I went to one of my favorite clothing sites – Bob’s Stores – and when I combined shopping in their clearance section with a coupon code they’d sent me for being on their email list and two rewards certificates, I ended up picking up $120 worth of clothing for $6.80 before shipping.
That, my friends, is how it’s done!
Have more Cyber Monday shopping tips? Let us know in the comments below!