Holiday "Shop Smart" Series: 7 Cyber Monday Shopping Pitfalls to Avoid

Andrea Woroch, a nationally-recognized money saving expert, gives us these tips as shopping season approaches. Here are ways you can save as you look for deals, including those on Cyber Monday.

1. Just Because It Says “Sale”…

…doesn’t mean it’s really a sale. For example, many stores are advertising blockbuster prices on the Kindle e-reader, but check with Amazon and you’ll find there’s no difference between the regular and so-called “sale” prices. Do a bit of research before you leave home by comparing the prices between clicks and bricks.

2. Overbuying
Do you fall into the frenzy of Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Everyone is grabbing and it’s so easy to feel you might miss out on a good thing. Remember that list people always tell you to make before heading out? Well, stick to it!

3. Not Checking for Quality
Many sale items are of substandard quality. Clothes are a particular example this season, as the increased cost of cotton drove manufacturers to use less of the popular raw material. Many hems aren’t properly finished, sleeves are shorter than normal, and manufacturers are using gathered seams to save on fabric. Consumer electronics also are subject to this syndrome. Look carefully before you buy.

4. Ignoring Coupons
There’s a reason the Thanksgiving newspaper is the fattest of the year. All those fliers contain some really juicy coupons. Check out for offers from your merchants.

5. Comparing Apples to Oranges
Naming no names, but some big-box stores order electronics and appliances with a slightly different model name or number, so you can’t comparison shop properly. If you want to price check an item, compare features, and not model numbers.

6. Forgetting About Extras
One of the best examples here is the computer printer. Manufacturers like to offer printers at what look like blazingly great prices. Unfortunately, the printer ink or toner will cost the gift recipient more than the printer cost you. The same goes with batteries for larger toys and electronics.

(Editor’s note: in the case of beauty items, see if you can purchase refills which usually cost less, when you purchase the big item. Beauty Gadgets also come with some recurring costs, so make sure you evaluate them and appropriate a budget for them).

7. Setting Your Sites on Freebies
Babies R Us is offering a free $10 gift card on toy purchases of $75, leading you to add enough items to your basket until you’ve hit the magic $75 mark. Express gives you $25 in Express Cash when you spend $50, which means you’ll likely spend more than the $25 on other purchases. Sometimes free isn’t really free.

What are your tips to save on Cyber Monday and other shopping deals? Leave a comment below.

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