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Make the most of Cyber Monday

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NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (11/28/11)--Nice to know you didn't miss out on all the bargains by sleeping in on Black Friday. You can garner the benefits of early shopping by hitting the keyboard on Cyber Monday (bankrate.com Nov. 18).

Online-only retailers especially pull out all the stops for this peak shopping day. Last year, online shoppers spent $1.028 billion on Cyber Monday, the heaviest online shopping day to date.

Employ these tactics to make the most of this holiday shopping spree:

  • Make a list. The old rules apply, new technology notwithstanding. Your list includes not only items you want to check out, at what prices, and for which recipients. It also should include an inventory of what you already have on hand so you don't end up spending needlessly.
  • Use the Web for research before you spend. Check for online reviews from other consumers, available bargains on price and shipping, and retailer coupon codes--all tools that help you get the best products at the best prices. Some useful sites include CouponWinner.com, CyberMonday.com and bargain message boards like Slickdeals.net and FatWallet.com.
  • Look for return rules. A bargain will backfire if you can't return or exchange it without hassle or expense, say, for return shipping or restocking fees.
  • Rein it in. The lure of great prices and the threat of sellouts can trigger spending more than you planned.
  • Curb the "one for you--and one for me" shopping impulse. If you're shopping for yourself, be mindful of keeping it within your overall spending plan.
  • Use your credit card. Credit cards give you protection in dealing with merchants, which can come in handy later if things go awry.
  • Confirm that you're on a secure site. Look for the "s" for secure in the Web address: https (ftc.gov Nov. 1).
For more information, read Create a Spending Plan for a Special Holiday in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.