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Holiday Spending Tips to Keep Your Wallet - and Identity - Intact

There's nothing merry about giving beyond your means during the holiday season. But we understand the desire to be generous. The trick is striking a balance between gift-giving with love and doing it responsibly. 

Here are a few ways to do that: 

  • Establish a budget and stick to it. Sometimes, that might mean saying no to big-ticket gifts. This year, many experience gifts such as Disney trips or ski vacations are on hold because of the pandemic. Use this forced change as a way to change holiday gift-giving expectations for your family. Look for lower-priced gifts that will provide fun in different ways, such as subscription boxes, art supplies or ice skates. 
  • Make a purchasing plan. The best way to blow your gift-giving budget is to shop without a plan. Instead, figure out how much you are spending on each person in advance, and have a rough idea of what to buy with that money. 
  • Find money in new ways. In a perfect world, you have been saving money throughout the year to spend on Christmas gifts. If not, find extra money in November and December to spend on gifts by pulling back on other areas. Skip dining out, hold off on a haircut, see if you can wait a little longer before buying new shoes. Consider picking up a second job to pay for gifts this year. Plenty of places are hiring seasonal help. 
  • Pay cash for purchases. A great way to insure you don't go into debt during the holidays is to only use existing cash to pay for gifts. You can't spend what you don't have, right? 
  • Look for deals. Retailers outdo themselves with special pricing this time of year. Watch the price of an expensive item for a few weeks to see if it changes. Then you'll know when a good deal pops up. Also, keep an eye on other retailers - online shopping makes it easy to shop around for better deals. 
  • Take caution with online purchases. This year, paying with cash might not always be feasible as shoppers choose to shop online as a safe alternative to visiting stores. But paying over the internet takes extra caution. Follow these tips to ensure your money - and identity - stay intact this holiday season:
    • Avoid using public wi-fi to make purchases
    • Only buy gift cards directly from the retailer - this is true for both online and retail store purchases
    • Don't click on links from unsolicited emails
    • Never be afraid to call a business directly to confirm that you truly are doing business with them. 
  • Only shop on secure websites. Look for two hints when online shopping to know if the website is secure. First, the web address should begin with https://. Next, look for the picture of a closed padlock in your web browser. When you click on the padlock, you should see a message stating the company name and that your connection is encrypted. 

Keep your holidays jolly this year by heading into the new year without holiday debt or a cyber security breach. For more information or to find out how we can help you, contact us at (815) 282-0300.