How to Get the Most Value Out of Cyber Monday

The holiday season is approaching, and for many Americans, that means planning out their holiday spending. The informal start to holiday shopping arrives just days after Halloween ends, and now is the time to start preparing to get the most value for your holiday shopping spree.

Most Americans are familiar with Black Friday sales, but there’s usually just as many steals, deals and enticing discounts to be had on Cyber Monday, which takes place on the Monday after Thanksgiving. On this day, many retailers offer enticing discounts on goods of all kinds.

Here are six strategies for getting the most value out of Cyber Monday.

[See: 10 Tips for a Budget-Friendly Cyber Monday.]

Plan out gift lists and present ideas before you start looking at sales. Before you compare Cyber Monday promotions, spend some time planning out your shopping list.

Start by making a list of everyone you need a gift for, along with a price range that you’re aiming to spend on each person. Then, consider each person’s interests and items they might like, again, without looking at sales listings yet. You can also add products you’re seeking for yourself to this list.

By list-making, you’ll have some direction when you’re looking at sales. You likely have a tally of things you’re looking for, such as Bluetooth headphones for less than $50 for your niece or a few particular Nintendo Switch games for your son. It keeps you from the digital equivalent of “wandering the aisles” and buying items on impulse that you might regret later.

[See: 12 Shopping Tricks to Keep You Under Budget.]

Start checking for sales on Friday, not Monday. Though “Cyber Monday” is the name, the reality is that online holiday sales tend to start on Black Friday and even on Thanksgiving Day itself.

Don’t assume that you’ll score all the sales you’re interested in by starting to browse for deals and discounts on Cyber Monday. You should be checking for sales starting as early as Thanksgiving evening.

Look for sales listings and promotions. There are many websites out there that collect Cyber Monday (and Black Friday) sales and promotions, so you can easily find them all in one place. U.S. News includes its own Cyber Monday sales roundups, and other lists are easily found via Google.

A day or two before Thanksgiving, go through these listings and attempt to match specific sales with the items on your list. That way, you’ve got a game plan for the things you want to do when Cyber Monday rolls around.

One great tip: Many sales have limited windows when they’re available, so be sure to note when such items are on sale. It’s also a good idea to have backup plans for each item on your list in case they sell out quickly.

Follow retailers on social media and on their mobile apps. Many retailers announce post-Thanksgiving sales at the last minute via their social media accounts or mobile applications. This can make it tricky to find every deal.

One effective way to get around this is to identify a few key retailers that are likely to carry the specific items you’re looking for. Download their mobile apps and follow them on social media, and check those apps and social media accounts when you’re actively shopping for those items on your list to see if a better deal pops up.

Check for travel deals. Surprisingly, many travel sites get into the Cyber Monday festivities, offering sharp discounts on hotels, airfare and vacation packages in the coming year. This is particularly useful if you’re considering giving someone a travel gift, such as a family vacation.

If the idea of a romantic getaway or a big family trip seems like a wonderful holiday option, be sure to also check out travel sites on Cyber Monday. You might be able to find a great deal on a cool getaway.

[See: 12 Habits of Phenomenally Frugal Families.]

Keep shipping costs in mind. While some retailers have friendly shipping policies, other stores will gobble up most of your savings by charging a hefty amount for shipping. Before you jump on board to what seems like a great Cyber Monday deal, consider the shipping cost of the item. If that eats up most of the savings, wait.

It’s usually better to get a lesser deal at an online retailer with friendly shipping policies than a great deal at an online retailer with expensive shipping rates. The $10 you save on a great deal will be wiped away by a $15 shipping rate.

Using these strategies can help you save on the items you want without spending money on the things you don’t need.

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How to Get the Most Value Out of Cyber Monday originally appeared on usnews.com