Cyber Monday: 3 nonconformist tips

Flickr user Kevin Marks

(MoneyWatch) We're deep into the holiday shopping season, when retailers, manufacturers and advertising outlets want consumers to follow the set path of moving from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, crazily looking for bargains and spending money. At least in e-commerce, you don't face violence as people fight over goods.

But even if you're not in physical danger, following the crowd still means planning your life around being in lines, whether literal or metaphorical. If you want to try something a little different, here are some tactics you can try.

1. Skip the impulse buying

Shopping on Cyber Monday is like going to the grocery store. If you don't know what you're going to get, you'll end up buying things on impulse. At the grocery store, you're typically limited by the size of a shopping cart and the amount of time you're willing to spend walking down aisles.

Not so in online stores. There is nothing to lift and no reason to leave your seat. That can make for an unexpectedly expensive browsing session. Instead of looking around to see what is available, work with a list. You may have a specific set of presents you need to buy for others, or maybe something for home or work. Stick to it and check sites like to see who will have what you need.

2. Go to a store

Yes, yes, Cyber Monday is supposed to be for online shopping. However, why do what you're supposed to do? Stores still want business and will be running sales. There are many retail locations that match prices. Print out a list of sale prices from sites and bring it along. You might be able to pick up what you want without sitting at a computer, waiting for a sale on a particular item to start.

3. Skip the hourly sales countdowns

Dismissing those hour-by-hour revelations of product specials must be the consumer equivalent of blasphemy. Never mind -- do it anyway. Retailers constructed this mechanism to drive up the need to win a bargain, using much the same psychology that can send prices unreasonably upward in auctions.

Flickr user Kevin Marks

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.