Holiday Shopping Blunders to Avoid
Did you know that more than 13 million shoppers are still paying off last year’s holiday debts, according to Consumer Reports. If money is tight is year, and really that is the reality for most people, remember that it is fine to cut back on gifts. But if you do plan on holiday shopping, remember that it’s important to keep your bottom line in mind. Know how much you have to spend in advance of your shopping sprees and don’t get too caught up in the holiday spirit. Regardless of the size of your bank account, you’ll save plenty if your savvy and we are here to help!
Retailers advertise great sales to get your attention, but don’t take the price break at face value – always compare prices. A store’s sale price may reflect a markdown from their regular price, but there’s no guarantee the manufacturer’s suggested retail price isn’t actually lower. It is also cautionary to avoid unfamiliar brands and be suspicious of knock-off and cheap version of name brands.
Debit cards are great because your taking money directly from your account and are not being saddled debts. But using debit cards on big items can be risky because it does not offer you the purchase protections that credit cards do. For instance, if you fail to report any misuse of your bank account within two days, you may be liable for the first $500 billed to your debit card instead of the first $50. If you have a problem with a purchase you made on a debit card, you may ultimately get your money back, but it will take longer to resolve than if you used a credit card.
Give gift cards another look if you’ve stopped buying them for gifts because of fees and other issues. Thanks to recent rule changes, this is the first holiday season in which any gift card purchased cannot expire for at least five years. Inactivity and other fees are banned in the first year, but you should beware of buying gift cards through online auction sites or classified ads. They may be counterfeit and could have been obtained illegally.
Many store credit cards offer savings of 20 percent on a single large purchase and that might sound good, but remember that retailers promote their store cards because they come out ahead on interest and late fees. Interest rates of more than 25 percent are quite common. That’s what you’ll find at the Gap and Macy’s, among many others. Signing up for a store’s credit card and then canceling after a short period, even if you pay it off on time, can harm your credit score. If you apply, be very selective.
Wishing you happy holidays and smart shopping!