Tips: Make the most of your money this holiday

Posted at 7:26 AM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-28 14:53:52-04

The weather may be cooling off, but the competition for your hard earned money is just starting to heat up.

No matter what upcoming holiday you may celebrate, the season is upon us.

Retailers will tempt consumers with the latest and greatest gifts and gadgets, but they are not alone. The next couple of months will bring a significant increase in requests for charitable donations. And regrettably, it’s also prime time for those looking for an opportunity to target the unsuspecting.

We live in an ‘always on’ society and it can be tiresome and even stressful to sift through the noise and stay focused on our financial goals this time of year.

Avoid seasonal angst while preserving your budget and your sanity with these tips:



1.        Earn rewards: Use a card that pays you back. If you don’t have a credit or debit card with a points or cash back reward system, it’s time to look around for another option. Make your money work harder for you.

2.       Be careful with credit: Department store credit card offers may include immediate discounts but also carry a much higher interest rate which can be costly in the long run. Keep in mind new credit inquiries may negatively impact your credit score.

3.       Ask about layaway: Layaway provides another way to pay for purchases over time and is a good alternative to credit. While layaway does come with service fees, most are minimal and no interest accrues on your purchases.

4.      Use your smartphone: Many stores offer exclusive deals through their app and oftentimes, these savings can be applied on top of other discounts. Be sure to ask if they price match.

5.       Verify online site security: Before filling your online shopping cart, verify the web address displays the lock icon and https. Credit cards generally provide the best protection should any fraud occur, however if you can’t avoid using a debit card for online purchases, consider a pre-paid debit or gift card instead to minimize potential losses.

6.      Beware of holiday scams: Criminals prey on the generosity of donors so don’t leave the door open. Do your research on the charity, check reviews on Google, Yelp or the BBB, and never give any financial or personal information over the phone.

7.       Monitor your accounts: Review your statements and credit report, and look for unauthorized activity. Watching your spending may also help you stick to a budget.

8.      Join the Movement:  Rather than spending impulsively on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, volunteer in your community as part of Giving Tuesday.

It’s a wonderful time of year, a time for sharing, giving, socializing and indulging those we love. Go ahead — make your list, make your plans and most importantly, make the most of your money.