Archive for Christmas

How Can I Save on Holiday Shopping?

Q: I’m always worried about money during the holiday season, and with inflation soaring, I’m more stressed than ever. How can I save on holiday shopping this year?

A: If you’re worried about making it through the holiday shopping season in the midst of record inflation, you’re not alone. A recent survey shows that 59% of American shoppers are stressed about buying holiday gifts this season due to higher prices. However, with some careful planning and budgeting, you can enjoy stress-free holiday shopping. Here are seven easy ways you can save during this holiday season.

  1. Shop early

It’s always a good idea to do your shopping early in the season so pressure and crowds don’t cause you to make decisions you’ll come to regret. This year, experts are urging shoppers to hit stores earlier than normally planned so they can take advantage of early season sales. Many big-box stores are struggling with a supply surplus thanks to an inflation-triggered decline in demand. This will likely lead to sales events to make room for more up-to-date inventory. You can take advantage of this surplus by shopping these sales and saving on your holiday purchases.

2. Set a budget

Budgets are for holidays, too. Sit down before doing your shopping to build a reasonable budget for your holiday shopping. Factor in current prices when working out your budget. Of course, this is only half the work – you’ll need to stick to that budget for it to be worth anything. Make this easier by allocating a specific amount for every gift, shopping with cash and/or reviewing your budget frequently as you do your holiday shopping. 

  1. Shop with a list

Instead of hitting the stores blindly, create a list of every gift you plan to buy for friends and family. You can browse online stores for inspiration, but resolve not to start shopping until you have a complete list. You’ll be far more likely to stay within budget when your purchases are pre-planned. 

  1. Leave some last-minute shopping for Green Monday

While it’s best to do the bulk of your shopping early in the season, you can leave some last-minute gift-shopping for Green Monday, which falls on Dec. 14 this year. This is when retailers make their final pre-holiday markdowns. Be prepared for slim pickings, though, so don’t leave any specific gifts for this late in the season. 

  1. Think outside the box when planning your gifts

If ever there was a holiday season to get creative with your gifting, this is it. Retail inventories are full of products that were backed up during the post-pandemic supply-chain disaster. Think furniture, home decor and more. While much of this may not make for typical holiday gifts, there’s no real reason you can’t delight a loved one with a new office chair, exercise bike or coffee organizing station.

  1. Give gift cards

Protect your gift list against inflation by giving gift cards. You can find discounted cards on sites like GiftCardGranny and CardCash, or use cash-back apps to earn them at no cost. Gift cards are easy to shop for, easy to budget for and always appreciated by the receiver.

  1. Use apps to save

In 2022, there are so many apps that can help you spend less on your shopping, and even put money back in your pocket. Here are some money-saving apps you might want to download ahead of this shopping season:

  • DropThis free app allows you to link your credit and/or debit card, and shop directly from the app at 300+ retailers. Earn points back on every purchase. Use your points to purchase gift cards.
  • HoneyWhy pay full price when you can get the same item for less? This coupon-scanning app will automatically find promo codes and coupons for items you’re searching for so you can save on your shopping. You can earn points on purchases made through the app, too.
  • FetchEarn points on grocery purchases by scanning your receipts after you shop. Redeem points for gift cards.
  • IbottaGet cash back for your purchases by scanning your receipts with this app. Use for online purchases, and by linking store loyalty cards for in-store purchases, too. Redeem points for cash or gift cards. 

Holiday shopping may be a race against inflation this year, but with a little pre-planning, you can complete your shopping with your budget intact. Use the money-saving tips outlined here to get started.

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Resources: 
https://www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/holiday-shopping-2022/ 
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/08/inflation-fears-spur-shoppers-to-get-early-jump-on-year-end-holidays.html
https://financebuzz.com/holiday-shopping-hacks
https://www.wsj.com/articles/some-of-the-best-holiday-gift-deals-are-popping-up-before-labor-day-11661212669


How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud this Holiday Season

With the holiday shopping season heading into its final frenzied stretch, scammers are out in full force to take advantage of busy shoppers. In particular, credit card fraud is rampant during this time of year. With most purchases paid for with plastic, scammers have their pick of vulnerable prey before the holidays. Stay safe this season and protect yourself and your cards from fraud with these safety measures and preventative tips: 

Choose zero liability 

If you can, choose a credit card with zero liability protection. This way, you won’t be responsible for any unauthorized charges made on your card. 

Monitor your credit

Stay alert and learn about the first signs of fraud to your credit accounts by reviewing your credit card statements carefully. It’s also a good idea to enroll in available alerts so you are notified of unusual and/or large purchases made on your card, and transactions made in remote or obscure places. Most credit card issuers offer instant text or email alerts, which helps cardholders to be alerted to fraudulent activity so they can take action before it happens again. 

Strengthen your passwords

Take some time out during this busy season to review the passwords on your accounts. Does each account have its own unique password? Are your passwords strong, using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols as well as varied capitalization use? If any passwords use your personal information, such as your date of birth, your hometown or your mother’s maiden name, change them. Easily cracked passwords like these can be used to hack into multiple accounts and can even lead to identity theft. Keep your passwords strong, and change them from time to time to prevent fraud. 

Shop with caution

Be an alert shopper this holiday season to avoid falling victim to credit card fraud. Only shop reputable sites and avoid clicking on pop-up ads or links in emails coming from unverified senders. To confirm a site’s security, look for the lock icon before the URL and the “s” after the “http.” Finally, make sure you are using a device that’s using updated security settings and choose a VPN (virtual private network) if you must use public Wi-Fi. 

Be wary of “support staff” calls from your credit card issuer

Some scammers resort to phishing calls for pulling off credit card fraud before the holidays. In these scams, a target will receive a phone call from someone who allegedly represents their credit card company or financial institution. The “support staff member” will tell the target there’s been an issue with their account and that it needs to be updated before the card can be used again. The caller will then ask the cardholder to share sensitive information, such as their card numbers, account details, passwords and more. Unfortunately, if the cardholder complies, they will be playing directly into the hands of a scammer. 

If you receive a phone call like the one described above, hang up and block the number. You can reach out to your card issuer on your own to check if there really is a problem with your account; but chances are, everything will be in proper order. 

Keep your cards close

Don’t forget to take basic precautions with your credit card this season, especially if you’ll be hitting a lot of shops before the holidays. Keep your card tucked into your wallet or purse. If you use a cardholder on your phone case, keep your phone in a safe place and make sure the card numbers are not visible to passersby. Finally, put your card away immediately after completing a purchase. 

Take immediate action if there are signs of fraud

If you suspect your credit card has been stolen or hacked, alert your credit card issuer and financial institution immediately. Your old card will be canceled to prevent the scammer from making additional charges and you’ll be issued a new one so you can complete your shopping. Consider placing a credit freeze on your accounts as well, which will make it nearly impossible for the fraudster to open new accounts or take out loans in your name. 

Stay aware this holiday season, and keep your money and your information safe!

RESOURCES:
https://www.chase.com/personal/credit-cards/education/basics/how-to-stop-credit-card-fraud-during-the-holidays
https://www.cnbc.com/select/how-to-prevent-credit-card-fraud-this-holiday-season/#:~:text=Holiday%20shopping%20is%20in%20full,credit%20card%20to%20purchase%20gifts.&text=While%20there’s%20the%20potential%20for,be%20charged%20for%20fraudulent%20charges.
https://moneyfit.org/blog/holiday-credit-card-fraud-guide