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Consumer Reports: Online shopping strategies to save you money

An online shopper searches different sites, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, from Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

More and more people are skipping the mall to do holiday shopping online. The upside is, you don’t have to drive in circles looking for a parking space, in fact, you can even shop in your pajamas! And, if you want to save money, Consumer Reports can help you line up the best prices with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The free browser extension, InvisibleHand, tracks prices at 11,000 online stores without collecting any of your personal information, and it can let you know if an item you’re looking at is cheaper somewhere else.

Another free browser extension, Honey, sweetens your discount at checkout, automatically. As long as you’re shopping at one of the participating stores, Honey goes out and Honey finds discount codes for you and enters them automatically when you check out. Honey collects data to help save you money, but doesn’t sell it.

You can also save money by playing hard to get. If you put things in a shopping cart but don’t buy them, you may get an email the next day, offering a discount to complete the purchase. Sometimes you can even get a better price, just by asking. If there’s a live chat option, you can go in, tell the representative how much you like the product, but you think it’s a little pricey and ask if there are any promotions or discounts.

Use sites like "Raise" and "CardCash" to create your own discounts by buying unused gift cards below face value and using them to purchase gifts for others. Strategies that take a little work, but could lead to big savings.

Also, if you're curious about when you’ll get a better deal, Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Consumer Reports says it depends what you’re buying. After comparing prices for several coveted holiday gifts, including televisions, fitness trackers and smartwatches, Consumer Reports found all came up cheaper on Cyber Monday. The one thing they say you should pick up on Black Friday: a laptop. Happy shopping!

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