Don’t Get Caught Off Guard This Black Friday or Cyber Monday

Did you know that most US retailers consider Black Friday as the unofficial start of the holiday spending season? Furthermore most Black Friday shoppers will spend 50 percent of their holiday budget on those sales. As these retailers have studied these trends, they have decided to actually start the Black Friday holiday this year on Thanksgiving to maximize their sales.

Consumers have to pre-plan to make sure that they don’t get caught off guard with all of the great sales and end up spending more than they have on holiday gifts. Here are some strategies that you should keep in mind when shopping both this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Stick To a Budget

Don’t go into the store or to an online retailer without being thoroughly prepared. Check out prices of items you are looking to purchase prior to going into the store. You should have a list made of everyone you are purchasing a gift for as well as the gift idea that you may have in mind for them. This step is vital in insuring that you do not overspend on the many deals and promotions that you will come in contact with.

Decide How You Will Be Making Your Purchases

To stay within budget it is best to always use cash. However, if you don’t have enough cash to cover your gifts and need to resort to using plastic, make sure that you know the balance and limit of the credit card you want to use. Keep track of all of your receipts as well to make sure that your credit card statement reflects the receipts that you have from your purchases. When purchasing gifts online, you should use your credit card only. When using a credit card for your online purchases, if the site gets hacked, you have a limited liability.

Stay Away From Retail Credit Cards

At the end of your purchase, the sales rep will probably ask you if you would like to sign up for a company credit card to receive an additional savings each time you make a purchase. The answer should always be no. Retail credit cards often have an extremely high interest rate. However if it is a store that you shop at quite often, have the clerk give you the information so that you can take the time to read over the fine print from the comfort of your home and your own leisure.

Monitor Your Credit and Debit Cards

Identity theft and fraud rises each holiday season. Make sure that you check your statements on all of your accounts two to three times per week. When you check your statements online, make sure to write down your balances, and keep track of what card you are using for what purchase. This will allow you to catch a potential identity thief before they have time to clean you out.

Follow these strategies to make sure that you have a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping experience.

Jessica Williams is Consolidated Credit’s Marketing Communications New Media Coordinator. As a member of the education team, Jessica focuses on helping consumers make better financial decisions while living debt-free. She has previously worked with Take Stock In Children, where she was a mentor and communications specialist, and, where she managed community relations, event planning, marketing, and public relations. Jessica attended both the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida where she received her B.S. in Interpersonal/Organizational Communications and Marketing. Connect with Jessica on Google+.