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5 Smart Spending Strategies for Cyber Monday

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What could be easier than sitting in your chair, sipping a latte and getting some shopping done? If you like to relax while shopping, Cyber Monday was created just for you.

Here are five strategies to keep in mind while bargain hunting on the web:

#1: Stay safe online

Make sure you see “https” instead of just “http” in the web address. The “s” indicates a secure site. And use a credit card so you have the consumer protections that come along with it in case you need to return the item or find out that you’ve been scammed. Many credit cards also provide extended warranties, purchase protection and other benefits.

When making purchases online, you can also consider using a virtual credit card number. Some issuers offer this service and it allows you to use a temporary number that’s tied to your actual credit card account. But if the site you shopped on gets hacked, the thief can’t access your real number.

[Related Article: Worried About Online Security? Use a Temporary Card Number]

#2: Don’t wait till Monday

The competition for shoppers has made all our big sales days start earlier and earlier. Black Friday now actually starts on Thanksgiving night for many retailers. It’s even easier to shop early on Cyber Monday because you don’t have to drive somewhere at 11 p.m. to get the deals.

Start hitting the websites of your favorite stores and Google specific product names to find the best bargains. One place to start your search for a good buy is on Shop.org’s Cyber Monday, which is associated with the National Retail Federation. Some deals, though, are good only on Cyber Monday so be sure you pay attention to the sales dates.

#3: Shop on your credit card issuer’s online mall

Many of these online shopping centers give you extra discounts on an ongoing basis when you purchase merchandise. A few are offering extra special Cyber Monday deals. For instance, some retailers on Capital One’s shopping portal, Perk Central, are offering double rewards on Cyber Monday. You can access Perk Central through Capital One’s online banking section.

Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall has a lot of Cyber Monday deals for cardholders. The deals vary depending on which card you have. For instance, on Cyber Monday, Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire and Ink cardholders save 25 percent if they use reward points to shop on ultimaterewards.com. Check out the rest of Chase’s holiday deals here.

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#4: Use rewards credit cards

You know how I’m always saying that you need to take advantage of your credit cards? Here’s a great chance to earn cash back, miles or points. Use your rewards cards to pay for Cyber Monday purchases. You’ll get a deal on a purchase plus you’ll earn rewards. But don’t go over budget to get the cash or to earn miles. Really, don’t go there.

Reminder: If you’re using a card with 5 percent cash back on rotating quarterly categories, be sure you enroll online before shopping.

#5: Track your spending

How easy is it to overspend online? Very, very easy. You load up your shopping cart, give your credit card information and click to buy. It doesn’t feel like anything has happened. And it’s not physically tiring like it is when you’re in the mall. So there’s no aching feet or crowd fatigue to make you stop and crawl out to the parking lot.

Use a good old-fashioned notepad and calculator. Write down what you want to buy and the total amount of how much you’ll spend online. And yes, this will change a little because you’ll find bargains on some things. Maybe a few items will cost a little more than you planned. Keep a running total of what you’ve spent and stay under the total you planned to spend. When you’re done, pat yourself on the back for all the money you saved and for sticking to your budget.

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