It’s Cyber Monday! Five expert tips to get the best pre-Christmas deals

Get the best deals and save more with these top tips for savvy online shopping

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When you really think about it, Boxing Day is kind of a perverse tradition. Canadians spend weeks shopping for gifts only to go out on the 26th and see everything marked down overnight. Major bummer! Stateside, they do the opposite: instead of waiting for after Christmas, retailers plan some of their biggest sales for Thanksgiving, which was this past weekend.

Black Friday (Nov 23) and Cyber Monday (Nov 26) are the two biggest sale days of the year in the U.S. – Black Friday sees big discounts happening at the mall while Cyber Monday is the day online retailers cut their prices.

It’s no wonder that 44 percent of Canadian online shoppers are planning to take advantage of the big U.S. discounts on offer over the weekend, according to a survey by Visa Canada – and that number is up 10 percent from last year. Cyber Monday is great because it allows you to shop from the comfort of your own home while getting good deals. And because our loonie is going strong, our purchasing power in the U.S. is a lot better than it used to be.

If you plan on taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals, make the most of your clicking with these quick and easy tips:

1. Do your homework

To get the best deals, focus on the right items. Some of the best savings are on clothes, shoes, electronics, video games and toys. Source coupons and research sales through sites like redflagdeals.com, couponsherpa.com and pricegrabber.com.

2. Don’t forget Canada

Cyber Monday is also making its way to Canada. Look out for those savvy Canadian retailers offering deals on their own sites this weekend — cyberblackfriday.ca and ecoupons.ca can help keep you on top of these.

3. Watch the shipping costs and duties

Duty and shipping costs to Canada can mean even the best discounts aren’t worthwhile. But more and more US retailers value their Canadian customers and are cutting shipping costs to attract our money. Make sure you look for sites that are designed for Canadian shoppers, with an option to see prices in Canadian dollars and  what the shipping costs will be. If you’re able to travel to the US easily, then consider having your items shipped to the border and pick them up so you can drive them over on your own.

4. Be careful

From email scams to discounts that are too good to be true, Cyber Monday is prime time for hackers. Make sure you don’t click on any fishy email links and that you tune up your anti-virus software before you get started. And pay with a credit card as opposed to a wire transfer as an added layer of safety. PC World has some more good tips.

5. Make a list

Know what you want and where to find it before you start shopping. Otherwise you might lose out on the best deals or, worse, end up overspending or buying random things you don’t really need just because they’re on sale.