***”Twelve Weeks of Christmas?  Is this some evil ploy driven by corporate greed to get even more money out of me and my vulnerable, consumer-driven wallet?”  No, not exactly…. this is just a blog!  But if you want to check out the other parts in this ongoing, 12-part series, which are not particularly evil and only mildly consumer-driven, check it out right here.  You won’t be sorry.

***ALSO, check out previous parts in week 6, “Black Friday Shopping Tips” and “Small Business Saturday.”  Kind of like a series within a series… a miniseries?  No, that doesn’t work… sounds like something on the Lifetime channel.  Anyways, check it out!

Ok y’all, I’ve asked you to put on your “focus pants” before– today I need you to turn on your listening ears (and whatever other metaphoric accessories will help you pay attention).  Today we’re talking about…

Cyber Monday!

My thoughts exactly. (Though I'm not sure why the heart has eyes and a smile. Creepy.)

Now, about ten, fifteen years ago, back in the age of chat rooms and “the-internet-is-still-a-novelty” this would have sounded like a very naughty thing, indeed.  So, dirty jokes aside, Cyber Monday is my favorite shopping holiday!

I love the internet (did I mention that a couple…3 dozen times?).  I love shopping!  I love getting a good deal (“duh” to the fifth power).  When all three of these things merge in a sweet, sweet union — in a weird kind of polygamist who’s-the-real-bride-and-groom thing — I am one happy lady!

(Quick, not boring) History Lesson:  Cyber Monday began as an official shopping holiday in 2005, after online retailers noticed an upsurge of online shopping during the weekend (and week) after Thanksgiving.  Wanting to capitalize on this, shop.org, the National Retail Federation’s digital edition, declared the Monday after Thanksgiving “Cyber Monday,” thus encouraging online retailers to reduce prices or offer a percentage off their purchase, free shipping, free gifts, et al.  Needless to say, the holiday took off and has only grown over the past years.

History lesson aside, Cyber Monday is a day to get some of the best deals imaginable, but careful planning is key for success.  So… guess what?  I made a list!  (I know what you’re thinking:  I never do that :)  )  Well, kind of a list, kind of a step-by-step, ya know… it’ll all be clear very soon.  And soon = NOW:

1.  Review your Christmas list, specifically what you have left to buy.

I know… Black Friday and Small Business Saturday haven’t even gotten here yet!  However, for some items on your list, it will be clear that you won’t find those things on either of these days (or you’ve already looked at the websites I recommended and know that you won’t find what you need on Black Friday).  Small Business Saturday comes with hidden surprises, so wait until after that before you make any solid decisions, but you should still have some idea of what you’re going to need/want online.

(Oh, and if you’re at a loss for online resources, look no further than this post.)

2.  After you’ve figured out what you may need to purchase online, comparison shop to find the best prices.

Bookmark these websites, save the links in an e-mail to yourself, whatever.  Obviously, the price you see today may be reduced on Monday, but it will usually be relative to its original price on the website.  If you have an extra minute and you feel pretty strongly about a particular website (for example, my go-to’s are Amazon and Overstock), go ahead and save yourself some time in the future and set up an account with them (this is a free account by the way, I’m not saying to open up a credit card account with them — Danger, Will Robinson!).

3.  Sign-up for e-mails, Facebook friend them or subscribe to their Tweets (or all three).

By registering for an account, you will probably already get their e-mails, but some companies give special deals to their Twitter followers or Facebook friends, so it’s worth the short-term hassle if it means you’ll get an incredible coupon or free shipping.  Needless to say, after Cyber Monday, you can unsubscribe (until next year, of course).

4.  Log in to your account with these websites, and add the necessary items to your cart (but don’t buy them yet!).

Most websites will save the items you added to your cart, and then when Cyber Monday rolls around, you have a much easier job!  You’ve already comparison shopped, so based on the price drops for the big day, you can remove or add more items to your cart.

5.  Check out CyberMonday.com

Here’s the link: http://www.cybermonday.com/   It’s basically what it sound like: a website dedicated to my fave shopping holiday, and sometimes it divulge leaked promos or other offers that will be available.

6.  Get up early!

This is important, especially if you have to work that day (though the National Retail Federation says that 50% of people who work at a desk with a computer will use it for shopping on Cyber Monday, so I’m not necessarily encouraging you to shop online while at work, but getting up extra early won’t hurt!).  Again, if you already have your virtual shopping cart full, it’s just a matter of double-checking with their Cyber Monday deals (sometimes you have to spend x number of dollars to get free shipping), then entering your credit card information, and wa-bam!  Done.

Another reason to get up early:  Online stores, though they are online, i.e. part of the world wide web, can CRASH or SELL OUT of the items you are wanting.  Eek!  So, get that worm early, early birds (there’s a proverb in there somewhere).

7.  Check out big box retailers’ websites as well.

Traditionally, that’s what Black Friday is for, but in case you were pining away for something and weren’t able to get it on Black Friday, you can still try to find it on their website (walmart.com, target.com, bestbuy.com, ya know).  These big box websites often surprise with some lovely Cyber Monday deals, so check them out!

8.  Etsy.com

I know, I know…. I talk about Etsy a lot, but I also talk about my husband a lot and it turns out, I like him… this is also how I feel about Etsy :) (though to a slightly lesser degree).

I know I mentioned this website in my Online Shopping Tips and Tricks post, so you may already be two steps ahead of me, but I can’t mention online shopping without giving Etsy a little love (and no, they don’t pay me to say this… but they could.  Etsy advertising people?  Are you listening? :) )

Since Etsy is an online marketplace comprised of various individuals who have virtual storefronts selling a variety of things, you won’t find any site-wide deals.  However, my tip (that has actually worked for me before) is to contact a seller directly.  Once you find an item or items that you want to buy, contact the seller (via the contact methods given) and ask about their Cyber Monday deals… or ask if they plan to participate in Small Business Saturday.  It doesn’t hurt to ask, and if you start a dialogue with them, sometimes you can open up the possibilities of haggling (quite possibly one of my favorite words in the English language).  Explain to them that you really want such-and-such item, but you plan on setting aside all online transactions for Cyber Monday in hopes that there’ll be some discounts or other perks.  Of course, the seller could go all p’shaw on you and say they don’t participate in such things (awww…..), but at least you’ve asked, and it never hurts to ask.

Maybe the online sellers will already have some Cyber Monday deals in place… or maybe they haven’t even thought of it yet and this will be the springboard for them to consider implementing this into their business plan!

9.  Don’t get spastic with the plastic!

(Can you believe I just made that up?  Will wonders never cease?)  :)

But seriously, remember that your debit or credit card is connected to a bank account (or a soon-to-arrive-in-your-mailbox bill).  It’s not Monopoly money (but oh, how I wish it was!).  It’s one thing to go to a store and swipe a card or hand over cash for your purchases;  it’s another to enter in a few numbers and click-click-click.  Don’t discount the gravity of what you’re doing, however user-friendly it may be.  It’s so easy to get into the mindset of the click-click-click, especially when you’re not dealing with tangible things like cash or a paper receipt.  Have fun, get great deals (I mean, how could you not?), but be SMART.

10.  Number Ten

I didn’t really have a number ten, but I was feeling sort of off balance with a mere nine tips.  I’m sure you understand.

Question time:  Do you plan to participate in Black Friday, Small Business, Saturday or Cyber Monday?  All three?  Just one?  None of the above?  Or are you going the Courtney route this year and giving all handmade, re-purposed, or thrifted gifts (if so, good luck — it’s no easy task)???  Are you going to start using the catchphrase “Don’t get spastic with the plastic,” especially considering I spent 3.75 seconds thinking it up?

Let me know in comment form below!

***To check out my Black Friday Shopping Tips, go here.

***To read my Small Business Saturday spiel, go here.

***To check out the other parts of “The Twelve Weeks of Christmas,” go here.

(SUBSCRIBE!)

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