- Black Friday and Cyber Monday are full of deals this year, both online and in-store.
- It can be easy to fall into a scam online if you aren’t careful.
- Simple tips and tricks can help you save more and stay safe this shopping season.
It’s the holiday season, which now, for many, also means it’s the shopping season.
While looking for gifts for people you love can feel overwhelming, don’t let yourself get caught up in the craze. Below are some of the best tips for balancing deal-hunting with preventing scams.
The best ways to take advantage of Black Friday deals:
Know what you’re looking for and make a list.
Before you go shopping, whether online or in-store, make a list of things you want or need to avoid impulse buying.
Figure out who you want a gift for, or what you hope to find on sale.
Having a set list can help you avoid impulse buying or being drawn to steep discounts just because they seem like a good deal. You probably don’t need it if you didn’t think about the item before seeing it on sale.
Use online tools to help you find the best prices.
There’s a wealth of apps and extensions that can help you look for coupons and deals.
Don’t be afraid to take a second and use these tools to compare prices on different websites, or to clip coupons for use in-store.
Plan which credit card to use for which purchases.
Because credit card interest rates and rewards vary, planning what card to use when you buy an item can help you avoid extra costs and help you save overall.
For example, if your card gives you 3% cash back on electronics stores, use it when you want your new TV or devices. You may also want to avoid using a specific card that has a high interest rate, especially if you know it will take you time to pay off your holiday purchases.
Look at your cards to find what looks best for you.
Customers looking for a new credit card can also pick smarter by choosing a card with a 0% intro APR, according to Motley Fool. The rate means customers could have a longer time to pay off their purchases from the holiday without interest.
Or, if you have trouble using cards, pay in cash — and use big bills.
You’re not alone if you tend to get carried away when you’re swiping your card. According to the MIT Sloan School of Management, credit cards can trigger the “rewards” part of your brain, making you more likely to spend excessively.
If you use cash, you are more likely to be conscious of just how much you’re spending. Using cash can help you spend between 10% and 15% less than you would with a credit card, according to financial expert Todd Christensen.
Consider “extras” when you budget.
Think of other things that might be incorporated into your gift-giving costs. Do you want to use wrapping paper or gift bags? Do you have to mail your gifts?
Since small costs can catch up to you, make sure you know what you want to spend on things like presentation and shipping.
Don’t get caught up with quantity over quality of gifts.
Budgeting for a gift for someone is a great idea, but it might be easy to think you have to spend that much on them no matter what — which can lead to unnecessary and less thoughtful giving.
If you think you need to spend $100 on your children, for example, you might feel obligated to “make up” and buy more if a gift ends up coming in under budget.
Instead of worrying about matching costs between people or your planned budget, find a meaningful gift, and don’t think hitting a set price point means caring more.
Gift cards can also be a great and versatile gift — and many outlets sell card packages for less than the amount on each card. It’s an easy way to give more while spending less.
Common schemes to avoid on Black Friday:
Watch for “doorbuster deals,” and don’t buy just because of large discounts.
Lots of deals are actually too good to be true, NerdWallet finance expert Kimberly Palmer told CBS.
Enormously discounted items are offered more frequently on old or poor-quality products, said Palmer. Buyers should take care to make sure what they’re buying is genuinely a good deal and not just exciting because of its low price point, Palmer added.
Look out for fishy links and emails.
This is great advice for your everyday life, but it’s even more important when you’re feeling pressured to make purchases fast and catch deals.
Don’t click on links in text messages and emails from people you don’t recognize, and beware of emails that imitate trusted stores to steal information.
Make sure you’re on official websites when shopping.
Again, this is good advice to follow, period.
To avoid putting credit card information on unsafe sites, make sure to check the URL of sites that you visit for any spelling errors or look online to make sure a site is legitimate.
If it looks sketchy, stay away.
After checking out these tips, we hope you’ve found a couple of things that will make your holiday shopping more budget-friendly and less risky.
Happy shopping, everyone!