FTC rings up its 2014 list of holiday shopping tips
I know, you’re probably still eating the leftover Halloween candy and here I am talking with you about the end of year holiday gift giving season. I mean well, really I do. With a little planning, you can take the daze out of the holidays and save a few bucks, too.
So here are a few tips to consider:
- Make a shopping list and check it twice. Don’t forget to add incidentals — like cards, wrapping paper, parking, or eating out — to your budget.
- Before you head out for the big holiday sales, learn more about paying down credit card debt and use this credit card payment calculator to plan your purchases.
- Check out websites that compare prices for items offered online. Some sites also may compare prices offered at stores in your area. If you decide to buy online, keep shipping costs and delivery time in mind.
- If you use a mobile device to shop for deals, be aware that shopping apps can collect a lot of information, like your name, mailing address, phone number, email, Social Security number, driver’s license number, date of birth and gender. Look for apps that tell you what they do with your data, and how they keep it secure.
- Know your gift cards. Retail gift cards are sold by retailers and restaurants, and can be used only with those merchants. Bank and credit union gift cards carry the logo of a payment card network like American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa, and can be used wherever the brand is accepted.
- Be stingy when it comes to sharing your personal information. Don’t give out your credit card or other financial information for a chance at the newest tech toy, free gift card, seasonal job or holiday vacation rental. Your information can be sold or used to commit identity theft.
- Save those receipts! When you’re shopping online, keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties.
- Money tight? Maybe layaway is an answer. You typically put down a deposit — usually a percentage of the purchase price — and pay over time; the retailer holds the merchandise for you in reserve. You take the merchandise only when you have paid for the item in full.
- Shipping to loved ones overseas or in the military? Check the U.S. Postal Services calendar for shipping deadlines.
- Tis the season to be wary, especially of charities that don’t — or won’t — provide key information in writing. Look for their mission statement, costs and where the money goes.