The shopping season has officially arrived; sales are on and the deals are there…or are they? Stores everywhere have been advertising heavily since Thanksgiving, but for many…it’s no longer about the traditional brick and mortar stores, it’s all online. You don’t have to be the brightest crayon in the box today to shop smart, there are apps that will do comparison shopping for you, and everyone wants to save money.

Consumers do their homework before making large purchases, regardless of the amount, one should always check the price guarantee with the retailer first; in the event you find it being offered for a lesser price before Christmas. Many stores will offer a price protection guarantee, in order to gain business, but it’s up to the consumer to keep checking for lower prices; you could get money back from the original retailer (seller). Don’t be afraid to inquire about future sales, as many associates are aware of their next big sales event. Also, if you’re not feeling confident about an item, but decide to purchase it anyways, make sure you’re fully aware of their return policy. Policies around the Holidays can fluctuate; especially in leu of those who abuse returns. Currently there’s a database which tracks these buyers who frequently return merchandise; so, denying returns is not uncommon.

If you’re an online shopper, always look for available codes to use before hitting the purchase button. There are websites dedicated to finding codes for various sites, whether they offer free shipping or a percentage off, it’s worth looking for. Always use secure sites, using a reputable store helps ensure your information is kept safe, and make sure that in the browser bar it starts with ‘HTTPS’; there have been many duplicate sites out there and scammers are just waiting to steal from you. Be aware of ‘delivery failure’ or emails that ask for confirmation for things you never ordered; they are looking to gain access to your personal information, so never click on these types of links.

Finally, always check your bank accounts frequently. We’ve all heard the saying ‘S#*t Happens’ … don’t fall victim of a scam. You may think you’ve done everything right, protecting your personal information, shopping online, eating dinner out or wherever you spend money; but accidents happen, especially while being on the go so much through the season. Letting your guard down at the end of the day is easy to do when your tired, so try not to make money decisions until you are refreshed. Overlooking certain things can happen when feeling exhausted or under the weather. When in public, keep your personal belongings close to your body and stay aware of your surroundings. I’ve observed a few shoplifters being arrested in stores, including a man on crutches with an orthopedic boot. I never thought he’d throw items in that boot, but I guess he did…which got him a ride in handcuffs and in the back seat of a squad; who would have ever thought??  Thieves are looking for opportunities anywhere they can this time of year, so don’t leave receipts in your packages, as they love to return items for cash. This will ensure you that they won’t be doing that. Always remember…if the sale seems too good to be true…then it probably is. Be cautious, alert, stay safe and keep warm…happy shopping to all.


Make your week count.