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Holiday shopping tips
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
The holidays are jolly if you take steps to control waste and overspending. Consumer Action provides these tips to help you have a merry holiday.
- Budget amounts you can afford for gifts and holiday extras, such as tree, wrapping, host gifts and entertaining at home—and stick to the program.
- Try to pay as you go with cash or checks, and not use credit cards.
- List current balance and APR on all your credit cards and carry it with you. Write down all new credit card purchases.
- Don't forget to comparison shop!
- Always ask about refund policies. Save receipts. Ask if the store has "gift receipts" that don't have the price on them.
- Save original tags and packaging if you think the item may need to be exchanged or returned.
- Surf on-line for bargains, free shipping offers, etc. But make sure the site is "secure" before you give out your credit card number.
- Shop at discount stores (like Ross, TJ Maxx, Big Lots, Marshalls etc.) to get brand-name items for much less.
- If you shop by catalog, remember that it will cost more to ship to multiple addresses—but the savings in time for wrapping, post office etc. may be worth it to you.
- Postage on greetings cards can cost a lot more if they are smaller or larger than usual. Send postcards—they take less postage.
- Watch out for those deferred interest deals ("zero financing")—you can end up paying all the back interest if item is not paid for in full by due date.
- Make sure the toys you buy are safe and not under recall by following media reports and Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
- Make sure people really want the items you give. Unwanted gifts and cheap disposable items create waste and damage the environment.
If you have many people to give gifts to:
- Draw names
- Make homemade items shown in many crafts and food magazines
- Offer services such as baby sitting to good friends
- Ask them over for dinner—even after the holidays
- Volunteer your time or give to their favorite charity.
- Use a fanny pack or your pockets instead of a purse.
- Park in well-lit areas
- At crowded malls, have a back up plan for meeting lost family members
- Be careful how you dispose of credit or debit card receipts
In preparation for next year:
- Save wrapping and ribbons
- Buy greetings cards on sale
- Start your own "Holiday Savings Club" to put away money for next year
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