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Avoiding Holiday Hazards

December 1, 2009

It’s that time of year again – time for holiday shopping and all the “deals” that go along with it.  This year, prepare yourself for your shopping trips by checking out AFFIL’s tips for avoiding holiday hazards.

With most people’s budgets already stretched thin, it’s especially important to make sure that your 2009 holiday shopping doesn’t give you a post-holiday financial hangover.  You can help prevent this by following these tips:

  • Check the fine print before you load up on gift cards. While they’re set to improve when all the provisions of the Credit CARD Act take effect, you could still be burdened with service fees and expiration dates in the meantime.
  • Avoid costly cash advances whenever possible. They’re the Grinch’s (and the credit card company’s) best friend.  The interest rates on this borrowed money are much higher than on purchases.  The best plan is to avoid all advances – including payday loans – because they’ll end up costing you long after your presents have been unwrapped.
  • Check your balance before you hit the mall (or the web). As we mentioned last week, Americans were charged more than $65 million in overdraft fees on Black Friday alone.  Make sure you have the money in your account before you spend it, and avoid lining the pockets of the big banks with your hard earned cash.
  • Be wary when shopping online. For more on how to spot scams, click here.
  • You know those zero-percent financing offers that seem too good to be true?  They usually are. Consumer Reports has the full story on why you should think twice before entering into these contracts.

Click here for the full tip sheet that we published last year, and enjoy your credit-saavy shopping!

(Photo: FloweryLuza)

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