Here are three useful tools for shopping, online or off

The Baltimore Sun

Are you ready for some shopping? No, seriously. I'm saying you need to prepare if you're going to brave holiday shopping this week, online or off. Here are three useful tools offered by many retailer Web sites that Consumer Reports Money Adviser says can help you find good deals this week:

RSS feeds: RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, allows retailers to send Web pages with news about sales and promotions directly to your PC. Wal-Mart, for example, has multiple feeds, including price rollbacks, clearance, and upcoming music and video release dates. To use feeds, you need an RSS reader. Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser has one built in. So do personal home pages such as My Yahoo, My AOL, and iGoogle. They can be found at Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA,, RadioShack, Sears and Target.

Widgets: These are store icons that you place on your computer desktop or embed on your personal Web page. Click on them to access the stores' specials. You can download a widget from the retailer's Web site, and some widgets can be installed on your iGoogle or Yahoo home page. They can be found at Charlotte Russe and Sears.

Cell phone sale alerts: If you're always on the go, you can have text messages about sales sent to your cell phone. Or you can shop online with a Web-enabled cell phone by signing up at the retailer Web site. Century 21 Department Store, Sears and Urban Outfitters offer cell-phone alerts. and let you shop by Web phone. And while you're shopping in one store, lets you check prices at many others before you buy.

Readers talk back

"I've said it before, but check out too. ... I've already finished half of my shopping using merchants from there.

Posted by: Parker

black friday

Check out our online coverage of the holiday shopping season with articles about the economy and tips for finding deals on Black Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving. And we're inviting readers to provide feedback through our Twitter widget, so you can talk about your plans, deals you're finding and sites you're using most often to plan your shopping. You can find the coverage at

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