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Holiday Shopping Do's, Don'ts and Tips to Find the Best Sales

Cash instead of credit, lay-away and other aspects of holiday shopping can keep shopping fun and allow you to stay financially keen.

With the holiday season coming, I thought I'd share a few tips to help you keep  financially fit. There are great deals to be had in the stores and online, and, with that in mind, there will also be others waiting for bargain hunters to take advantage of their quest.

To enhance your holiday experience, even if you have a limited budget, you can get started now. Lots of stores are having Black Friday[1] sales on other days of the week to get shoppers in the doors. I used to shop during the season on Mondays and Tuesdays after work. The merchandise was always in the proper place and less people were in the stores and I didn't have the stress of Saturday and Sunday shopping.

You can take advantage of using some tried and true things to stay on budget such as:

  • Trying the old fashioned lay-away system to budget and stay on track with your purchases.
  • Compare items and pricing on the Internet. Every store may not carry exactly the same item so this is an easy way to be sure you are getting what you want rather than searching in the stores only to find out it was "bait and switch."
  • Use cash not credit and beware of gift cards. Take enough cash but be careful as pick-pocketing is still alive in malls and flea markets. Many gift cards come with expiration dates so carefully read the terms and conditions.
  • Bring a list with you of items you plan to purchase and stay on track. Stores will definitely upsell you and, if you are an impulse buyer, this will help you to keep to your plan.

Also, be careful when shopping on the Internet. Some sites are not secure enough and hackers get your card number and charge small amounts on your card. Because the amounts are small, you may tend to overlook the charges. This happened to me the one time I bought something on-line. It was a small charge, but, since my card company noticed that it was an irregular purchase, they put a fraud alert on my card.[2]

The most important part of the holiday will be whether you will have a financial hangover come January!

The holidays are lots of fun with family, friends, decorating, parties, good food and the seasonal shows! Let's all celebrate and stay financially fit!

[1] http://www.forbes.com/2010/11/10/black-friday-best-deals-sneak-peak-doorbusters-facebook-twitter.html

[2] http://shopping.yahoo.com/articles/yshoppingarticles/448/the-sneakiest-new-shopping-scams/

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