Before you join the Christmas shoppers, consider some ways to keep your hard-earned money and stay safe from the potential of holiday scams.
Making a List… and create a Budget.
Holiday shopping doesn’t have to lead to spending more than you can afford. This year, take steps to avoid a gloomy credit card statement in January. Before you set out on a shopping spree, think about how much you plan to spend. Set a dollar limit for the people on your list. Any decorations, baking supplies, or wrapping paper, should also be added to the list to estimate your total costs.
Using a credit card to buy the gifts on your list can make shopping easy. Just be sure that you know your plan to pay back the credit card balance. Some experts advise spending only what you can pay off in three months. So if you can put $200 toward the credit card bill in January, February, and March, then keep your spending under $600. Others suggest running a balance that you can pay off within one month. Whatever you decide, make sure your plan is practical and works for you. With a budget set in place, you’ll spend within your means and feel better about it, too.
Be careful not to carry around large sums of cash when shopping. Using a debit card or credit card can protect you if there’s fraud against your account. Unfortunately if cash is stolen, your money is gone.
Stay Safe Online
Shopping online for Christmas is convenient and fast. But before you electronically swipe your card, make sure the site is safe. Before making an online purchase, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
When shopping online, be sure you do so from a password protected Wi-Fi network. Never access online banking from a public Wi-Fi network.
Monitor your account.
Always use online and mobile banking to keep an eye on your transactions, especially during the holidays. Notify the bank right away if there’s any fraudulent activity.