Shop Smart this Season

How ready are you?

Christmas presents

Whether you're a Black Friday warrior, a Small Business Saturday loyalist, a Cyber Monday clicker, or all three, it's time to get ready for your weekend.

Before You Shop

  1. Know your situation.

    Figure out how much you've already spent and how much you have left to shop with. Going in blind will lead to overspending.

  2. Have a spending plan.

    Make a list and a budget. Know who you're shopping for, what you want to buy, and most importantly, how much you intend to spend. Then stick to it.

  3. Make an action plan.

    Use all the online and newspaper ads to figure out where you need to go and when.

  4. Lighten your wallet.

    Take unnecessary cards out of your wallet. Not only will it make it easier to keep tabs on your spending, it'll also reduce the damage if your wallet is lost or stolen.

store decorated for Christmas

Friday and Saturday

  1. Take precautions.

    Stay in well-lit areas, don't carry large sums of cash, and make sure to hide and lock your purchases in your trunk.

  2. Pay attention.

    Card skimmers are out there waiting to steal your information and ATMs and gas pumps are the biggest risks. Only use ATMs in well-lit, secure locations, and look at the card reader slot to see if anything looks out of place. Experts recommend paying inside the store for your gas, but if you do pay outside, choose the pump that's the closest and most visible to the cashier.

  3. Don't take stores up on their credit card offers.

    It's not worth it, even for a discount. You'll usually end up paying outrageous interest rates.

  4. Keep those receipts.

    You'll need them to track your spending and compare to your statements.

shopping online with a RVCCU credit card

Monday

  1. Know where you're shopping.

    Stick to well-known sites that you trust. And always make sure that any site that asks for your personal information is protected and encrypted. A secure web address will begin with https://, where the "s" is your signal that the site is secure.

  2. Use credit, not debit cards.

    Your credit cards have more consumer protections than your debit card. And if your card is compromised, criminals won't be draining money from your checking account.

  3. Don't give away too much information.

    A good online retailer isn't going to ask you for personal information they don't need, like your social security number.

  4. Watch the wifi.

    You should avoid using public wifi to shop or check your accounts since it's too easy for a thief to grab your information through a public network.

putting sprinkles on Christmas cookies

After it's over

  1. Assess the damage.

    Are you over-budget or do you still have money to spend? Total up your receipts, compare it to your budget and list, and re-do your math if you still have shopping to do.

  2. Keep a close watch on your accounts.

    Use your online banking or your monthly statements to make sure there are no suspicious charges. If you see a transaction that shouldn't be there, report it to your financial institution immediately and get their help with what steps to take next.

  3. Enjoy the holidays.

    We put together these tips to help you avoid worst case scenarios, not to add to the holiday stress. Just be careful and smart about your shopping. We're here to help make your holidays happier, so get in touch if you need a little extra help.

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