How Can I Shop Safely On Black Friday?

Q: I love Black Friday but I worry about the risks. With the possibility of being trampled or of my credit card being compromised, there’s so much that can go wrong! How can I protect myself without missing out on the biggest shopping day of the year.

A: Black Friday does pose some serious risks to shoppers, but with the proper safety measures, you can happily join the bargain-hungry crowds on November 24.

Here’s how:

1.) Plan ahead

Planning ahead means you’ll spend less, be out of line faster and decrease your risks. Sites like BlackFriday.com can help you plan your day and find the best deals.

2.) Credit card only

Credit cards are the best way to shop when there are high risks to your safety. You can always dispute a charge; you can never reclaim stolen cash. Also, keep your card as close to you as possible. If using a debit card, cover the payment terminal with your other hand when inputting your PIN. 

3.) Shop with a friend

The mall may be crowded, but a determined criminal can find a way to corner you and empty your wallet or take your bags. Stick with your friends and never enter deserted areas alone.

4.) Keep your cool

Nothing you can purchase on Black Friday is worth your health or safety. Avoid all scuffles with fellow shoppers.

5.) Move your car

If you spend the day at the mall and routinely drop off your bags in your car, it’s best to move your car to a different spot. Thieves may be watching shoppers leave the mall with lots of bags and follow them to their cars. If they see you dropping off your goodies and then heading back to the mall, they’ll consider making off with your things. If you drive off, though, they’ll think you’re leaving and won’t follow you.

6.) Online safety

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are notorious for online scams of every kind. Here’s what to remember when shopping online:

  • Beware of phishing scams

Be alert for suspicious looking emails and links. Delete anything that doesn’t look right.

  • Make sure your connection is secure

Verify security by looking for the padlock icon on the address bar and by using sites with an “S” tacked on to the “http.”

  • Pay securely

Only use trusted payment systems like PayPal or Google Wallet. Shop from sites you trust and make sure they’re legitimate by checking the URL and looking out for sites that end in .org or .net. Never agree to wire money for a purchase.

  • Strengthen your system

Before shopping online, check that your device’s security systems are updated with the most recent protection and security patches. If you’re using Wi-Fi, make sure the network is secure and requires a password to join.

 Now that you’re armed with tips to tackle Black Friday, do you have any other tips for safe shopping this time of year? Share them with us in the comments!

4 Ways to Save for the Holidays

The holiday season always seems to have a way of sneaking up on us. We think we’re in good shape and then BAM! Our budget goes out the window as the gifts pile up. To keep you financially fit this holiday season, we put together a few tips that you can start implementing now to save you stress and money later. Check them out!

  • Make a list of who you’re going to buy for and try to jot down the gift(s) for those lucky people. Now make a commitment to stick to your list!
  • Start looking for sale prices for the items you’ve written down. Research online, in stores and in weekly ads to snatch up the item at the lowest price.
  • Start purchasing one or two gifts per paycheck NOW! The earlier the better! Leave a sticky note on the gift with the recipient’s name in your secret hiding place. Don’t have a hiding place? Try the next tip instead!
  • Start a Christmas Club account! Transfer cash from every paycheck into your Christmas Club account and don’t touch the money until you’re ready to start your holiday shopping. (If your financial institution doesn’t have a Christmas Club account, come check out ours.)

We hope these easy tips help you with your seasonal shopping. Plan ahead so you don’t break your budget! Do you have any other tips or habits to share? Leave a comment below and tell us how you stick to your budget during the holidays!