How to be a smart internet shopper

Consumers are about to do some serious cybershopping. More than 131 million (54.8%) shoppers, up from last year’s 129 million, are expected to spend $2 billion online for Cyber Monday, which could translate to as much as $82 billion being spent at online retailers in November and December of this year, according to The National Retail Federation.

Shopping online is convenient, but for over-spenders, the Internet may be too convenient. With retailers admitting to spending 20 percent of their yearly marketing budget on holiday promotions, it pays to have a plan before hitting the web.

  • Know your budget. Before browsing the web, determine how much you can afford to spend. The NRF predicts shoppers will spend $129 on non-holiday related items, so don’t forget to add a little extra to your spending budget in case you stumble on a deal you can’t resist.
  • Have a plan for payoff. Since most Internet purchases are made with a credit card, planning is of the utmost importance. In a matter of minutes, you can charge up holiday gifts that take months or even years to pay off.
  • Comparison shop. With the luxury of avoiding the travel time and long lines with in-store shopping, comparing products and prices online can be done quickly and easily, and can result in big savings if done right.
  • Do your research. Most retailers will offer free shipping on Cyber Monday, with discount shipping for the remainder of the holiday shopping season, but many require a shopping code. Search sites like and for valuable coupons and promotional codes for shipping discounts and other savings.
  • Shop with a list. Make a comprehensive gift list and take note of any other needed holiday purchases. Use your list when you shop online and buy only those items on your list. Buying something you don’t need at a good price is no bargain.

Finally, remember great gifts don’t have to cost money. Consider gifting your time by offering help with useful tasks such as a few hours of yard work or babysitting. Visit for other free gift ideas, and for a free printable gift certificate.

Tanisha (Warner) Smith is a former communications manager at MMI.