Cyber Monday: Are You Shopping Online?

Before going to brick and mortar stores, consider shopping online.

It's true: My husband will likely buy something each day from now until about December 17th. He loves online shopping, and looking for deals. In fact, even though we don't go out on Black Friday, he still spent a large chunk of time scouring the Internet for good deals — and even buying a few things.

Today, of course, is Cyber Monday, so I fully expect that my husband, in between his teaching duties, will find some things to purchase. There are some great deals out there right now. Before you head to the retailers, it might be worth checking online.

Save Money by Shopping Online

Before you buy anything online, though, you do need to double check the total cost. Sometimes, if you add shipping costs to your order, it can end up costing more than if you got in the car and drove to the store. However, during the holiday shopping season, many retailers offer free shipping on most orders. If you aren't sure, you can visit FreeShipping.org for information on who's offering free shipping.

Another tactic you can use is to look at the online deals, and then call the brick and mortar stores in your area and see if they are willing to match the price. This is a strategy that my husband and I have employed in the past, with good results. We have found lower prices online at Best Buy, Sam's Club and other retailers. When we call the local stores, they are usually willing to give us the online price — just so that they can boost their sales numbers in-store.

It might be worth it, too, to call a local (non-chain) store and offer to split the difference between the online price and the higher price offered by a local establishment. This has actually worked for us as well. We pay a little bit more than what we would pay online, but we are supporting a local business, and that is important to us. And, many local businesses are willing to give a little bit of a break on price in the hopes that you will become a regular customer. (We do try to reward flexibility with loyalty.)

Of course, in some cases, the online deal is just too good. While we like to do our best to keep money in the local economy, sometimes you just can't beat a “Lightning Deal” on Amazon.

Keeping Yourself Safe When Shopping Online

It is important to be safe when shopping online, though. You want to make sure that your money is safe when you shop online, and that means paying attention to cyber security. Some things to remember include:

  • Make sure the site is legitimate: Your first step should be to make sure that the web sites you buy from are legitimate. You don't want to be giving personal information away to scammers.
  • Make sure the connection is secure: Before you enter personal payment information, make sure the connection is secure. Look for the “lock” icon in the address bar, or the “s” at the end of “http.”
  • Updated protective software: Make sure the software that protects your computer from viruses and other malware is up to date, so that it provides proper protection.
  • Consider a virtual credit card: You can further protect yourself with the help of a virtual credit card. You are issued a number that works only once, so if someone does get a hold of the number, it can't be used by the scammer to run up large bills. A third-party payment provider, like PayPal, can also protect some of your personal financial information.

Shopping online can be a great way to save money. However, you do need to be careful. Make sure you are getting the best possible deal, and consider leveraging your online savings into offline deals as well. If you do buy online, though, make sure you are properly protected, and that you observe security measures that will keep your personal financial information safe.

Image source: Maximum PC via Wikimedia Commons

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