dad and son excited for cyber monday shopping
Budgeting & Saving

Key takeaways

  • Cyber Monday often features great deals on electronics and tech gear.
  • Sales may start a few days before Cyber Monday and run through the week.
  • Security measures and alertness are important when shopping online.

In the era of online shopping, Cyber Monday can be thought of as the digital equivalent to Black Friday. It’s the annual online shopping day that semi-officially takes place on the first Monday after Thanksgiving. We say “semi-officially” because many vendors start earlier, and sales can run for quite a while afterward, too.

Though most Cyber Monday sales happen online, brick-and-mortar vendors have been known to offer similar great deals to compete with their web-based counterparts. Those deals offer shoppers a great chance to score deep discounts on electronics and other goods.

Anytime you’re shopping online, stay on the lookout for hacking attempts and the fallout from data breaches. Best Egg Financial Health has tools in place to help keep an eye out as well. We can monitor your credit report and alert you to any changes that you need to know about. Good or bad, hacker or credit boost — don’t be caught by surprise.

Is it worth shopping on Cyber Monday?

Absolutely. If you plan to buy electronics, Cyber Monday offers a chance at the best deals of the year. Many retailers blur the timelines a bit, though. Pay attention to when the deals really begin — and when they truly end. Don’t be fooled into checking prices only on Cyber Monday. Sales often start days earlier, sometimes even before Thanksgiving. It’s common for sales to extend past Cyber Monday, as well.

Is it better to buy on Black Friday or on Cyber Monday?

Although Black Friday has traditionally been the bigger sales day, Cyber Monday has changed things. On Black Friday, great deals are offered on items like small kitchen appliances or vacuum cleaners. Here and there, you might see deals on e-readers or video gaming stations.

But on Cyber Monday, many vendors offer site-wide deals on everything electronic. You might find deals on laptops, gaming systems, big-screen TVs, professional cameras, car stereos, and other tech gear. If you’re looking for something electronic, Cyber Monday is the time to buy. Be alert though, as you might find that exclusions apply. You may be limited to buying only one item at the sale price, or only one sale item per day.

Cyber Monday deals often run for a few days afterward. In fact, it’s sometimes called Cyber Week. If you miss out on Monday, try to check back later. Vendors restock continuously — and sometimes without notice. Sometimes, being able to grab that great deal can take equal parts persistence and luck.

Tips for Cyber Monday shopping

When shopping at Cyber Monday stores, there are a few tips that may help you. Remember, it’s still “regular shopping,” even if the wild discounts and excitement seem otherworldly. Here are some helpful tips to consider:

Create a budget and a shopping list

Make sure that you can afford everything you want. Setting your budget before the sales kick off will help you keep an eye on costs. Making a shopping list of what you really need will help you focus on those items. And it will help you to resist impulse buys. Include on your list all of your holiday gifts for others (or for yourself). Set a fixed limit to spend and stick to it, no matter what amazing deal you might find.

Sign up in advance

Early on, hit the websites of vendors you might visit during Cyber Week. Sign up for their newsletters or notification emails. It’s never too late to do this, but it’s best to sign up at least a week before Thanksgiving. That way, you’ll receive the vendor’s coupons, discounts, or unadvertised specials beforehand. Make a note to unsubscribe when you receive your purchases to avoid getting inundated with spam emails.

Check social media

Along with email signups, make sure to follow vendors on their social media channels. Vendors sometimes post special deals, coupons, or discount codes via social media, or they may offer early access to sales events, letting you get the jump on other shoppers.

Will it be on sale?

Consider what you’re planning to buy on Cyber Monday. If it’s electronics, perfect. If it’s winter apparel — jackets, coats, insulated boots — you might wait until the end of the chilly season. That’s when those items get discounted. Holiday decorations, linens, jewelry, and sportswear usually go on sale at other times of the year. Focus your efforts on what Cyber Monday is all about: technology.

Compare prices

Vendors are known to “mark up to mark down.” Sometimes, 50% off the “suggested retail price” ends up being what everyone else sells it for. Use a notepad or create an electronic spreadsheet to track prices and vendors. You can also use online price comparison tools. Whichever way you track prices, don’t jump on a deal until you verify that it’s really worthwhile.

Look for free shipping

This especially applies when you’re comparing prices. A “rock-bottom price” loses some of its appeal if a shipping charge is attached. Some vendors always offer free shipping, and some offer it only during sales events. Many offer free shipping if you spend a minimum amount, say $25 to $99. Knowing this, and tracking it on your spreadsheet, will help you decide whether a deal is worth it. Or you may decide to stack multiple purchases at one vendor in order to qualify for free shipping.

Is it returnable?

You might be surprised, but some vendors don’t allow returns. Or they’ll only offer something minimal, like a three-day return window. Both are typically red flags. Reputable vendors allow returns, and they often offer 14 to 30 days to make them.

As always, exclusions apply. A vendor may allow exchanges or refunds only on items that are damaged or broken upon receipt. For personal items or food products, they may not allow returns or exchanges at all. Other items, such as refurbished electronics, often carry a limited warranty or exchange period. It will pay you to know these things before you buy.

Make a bookmark folder

Early on, create a new bookmark folder in your browser and label it “CyberWeek.” Fill it with links to all of the vendors you’ll visit, so that you’ll have them handy and organized. You can even add links to general searches. For instance, let’s say you use Google, and you enter “gaming chair” into the shopping search. Be sure to bookmark the results page. Then, anytime you need to check that search item, just click your link.

Check your credit cards

You’ve made a budget and know what you plan to spend. But have you checked your credit cards to see if there are any tie-in deals? Sometimes, card issuers offer a discount at certain vendors’ stores. You might score an additional 5% or 10% off, and that’s usually stacked on top of other vendor sale discounts. That could bring substantial savings on big-ticket items.

Security

Scam attempts and malicious websites abound, and they’re even more prevalent during the holidays. Be careful. If you get an email that appears to be from a vendor, double check who’s really sending it. Don’t click links you find on other sites or in emails — type the vendor’s address directly into your browser. Be wary of slight misspellings in the URL or web addresses that don’t match the retailer you are trying to visit. Those could be signs that someone has set up a phony website to trick shoppers.

Don’t trust a random site that pops up in a search engine. You know the kind: those with the deal too good to be true. It might be a scam. Prices on the same item don’t vary tremendously from one reputable vendor to another.

Always make sure that the site is secure before you enter payment information. The URL should begin with “https:”, which shows that the site uses an encrypted connection. The address bar should feature a lock icon as well. If you don’t see these items, anything you type can be easily intercepted and read by hackers. As always, register with vendor sites using unique usernames and strong passwords for each. Or use “guest checkout” if it’s available.

And be sure to keep an eye on your credit card and bank accounts throughout the season. Data thefts and financial hacking tend to increase during holidays. The faster you contact your bank about a problem on a statement, the sooner your bank can address it. Following these tips should help you stay on track with your holiday shopping budget and keep your accounts safe and secure. For more tips or to track your holiday spending, check out the My Finances section of Best Egg Financial Health.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide financial, tax or legal advice. You should consult a professional for specific advice. Best Egg is not responsible for the information contained in third-party sites cited or hyperlinked in this article. Best Egg is not responsible for, and does not provide or endorse third party products, services or other third-party content.

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