I had one of the most fun and memorable holiday experiences several years ago. After a great Thanksgiving feast at my grandmother’s, my mother and I decided that we would bite the bullet and go together the next morning to shop on Black Friday . Neither of us had done so before, and we felt that it could be a fun, and lucrative experience.
My mom picked me up at 4:30 a.m. and we headed to the stores about a half an hour away, donned in sweatpants, sweatshirts, gloves, and hats. The warm glow of the stores in the darkness of the early morning, the excitement of other shoppers also donned in sweats, and the incredible deals we found (I saved $121 dollars that year on my Christmas shopping!) made it a memory for both of us.
By 8:00 a.m. we were finished, and grabbed a quick diner breakfast before heading home and crashing for a few more hours. While this was such a fun time for my mother and me, I have not gone back out since on Black Friday! It was cold, dark, and we used up a lot of gas.
Instead of shopping on Black Friday, I like to take advantage of Cyber Monday, where I can get some incredible deals, score some free shipping, and have it all delivered to my door without ever leaving the house. Just make sure you order by the Christmas Shipping Deadlines .
This year, Cyber Monday is November 30, 2009. Here are some tips to help yours be a success!
Online Cyber Monday Ads and Resources
There are a few great websites that you should bookmark for your online shopping adventure:
- Dealio  offers an array of online deals, and updates often.
- CyberMonday.com  is the original website that coined the term “Cyber Monday” and sponsored the inaugural Cyber Monday website in 2005 .
- Amazon Online Deals . If you don’t want to wait until next week, you’re in luck. Amazon started their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals yesterday. Check back each day for new sales.
These websites have some ads already listed, but many will not be available until the morning of Monday, November 30, 2009.
How to Get Free Shipping
Shipping costs can add up when ordering online. However, you won’t be paying any gas money to travel from store-to-store, so you still might come out ahead instead of shopping on Black Friday. Still, who likes to pay for shipping? I know I don’t.
One of the easiest ways to get free shipping is by bundling your purchases together. This will ensure that you reach certain thresholds of spending at a store so that your shipping is automatically free.
But if you would like to cherry pick deals—choosing one item from one store, and an item or two from another—then there are still some good shipping deals to be had. FreeShipping.org  is a great resource for finding free shipping coupon codes.
Another way to score free shipping is to pick up the items yourself. Some merchants allow you to pick up the item in a store near you at your leisure. You can still purchase the product at a great discount on Cyber Monday, but then indicate that you will pick it up at a local store.
On a final note, while it does not take place on Cyber Monday, there is a Free Shipping Day  with a lot of online merchant participation. On December 17, 2009 you can order online from hundreds of merchants and get free shipping, with guaranteed shipment by Christmas Eve.
Score Cash Back on Online Purchases
A way to offset any shipping costs, or to sweeten your Cyber Monday deal finds, is to earn cash back  on your online purchases. There are several sites you can sign up for, such as Cashbaq , and Ebates . Here’s how to get money back on your online purchases, as well as to get deals on Cyber Monday:
- First visit some of the online resources above, and copy down coupon codes for products and stores you want to use.
- Then visit the websites for free shipping, and find online codes for the stores you will be using.
- Next, sign onto your Cashbaq  or Ebates  account, and through that website, find the online merchant you wish to purchase from.
- Once you get to checkout, put in your coupon codes (as many as are allowed; you may be forced to choose between several, so pick the highest valued one).
- In several weeks, check your Cashbaq or Ebates account and see how much money you have earned!
No matter which way you choose to shop—Black Friday , or Cyber Monday—I hope your experience is a memorable and lucrative one. If you find some great deals, come back and share them with us all!