Holiday Spending, Budgeting, and Security Tips
Whether you brave the mall, shop local, or get caught up in the online shopping frenzy this holiday season, you’re in good company. The National Retail Association reports that 164 million Americans will shop Thanksgiving week, including on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and on Small Business Saturday and Sunday. In fact, the average consumer is expected to spend $967 this year.
How much are you shelling out to spread holiday cheer? Do you want to find that perfect gift, without spending yourself silly? Here are some simple guidelines:
- Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for, and stick to it.
- Set a budget limit. As they say, “It’s the thought that counts.”
- Use the best credit card. As a not-for-profit cooperative owned by our members, we can offer lower interest rates on credit cards than many other financial services providers.
Protect Your Credit and Debit Cards
As a smart consumer, you can shop with confidence this holiday season.
- If you are a Mid Oregon member, use CardNav to protect your debit card use. Report any suspicious activity to us right away.
- Keep a list of all credit card account numbers in a safe place (Not your wallet!), so you can report it immediately if they are lost or stolen.
- At the cash register, protect your PIN by blocking the keypad from the view of cashiers or other customers.
- Some non-metal keypads have heat sensors that are active for several minutes after you enter your PIN, and infrared cameras on smartphones can be used to obtain your PIN. We suggest resting your fingers on other keys as you enter your PIN.
- Do not use public wireless networks for online purchases.
- Shop on sites with https:// in the URL, and be sure that an icon with a lock appears to the left. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates communication with that site is encrypted.
- Type the merchant’s address directly into your browser; avoid links.
- Use complicated passwords with at least eight characters. Include numbers, special characters, and upper and lower-case numbers.
- Keep the antivirus and security software updated on your computers and mobile devices.
- We recommend that you don’t store your payment information on shopping sites or shopping apps.
Don’t let the Grinch steal the season. When you go shopping, park in well-lit areas. Then walk to and from the stores with your head up and be watchful. Thugs look for people who are not paying attention. Keep your keys in your hand so you can hit the panic alarm if you need to. Unfortunately, tis the season for pickpockets, too. So keep wallets in zipped purses and front pockets.
Compare Online Deals
Online shopping is a wonderful timesaver! We know a lot of sites will claim to have great deals, particularly on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They may not have the lowest price. If you find something you like, do a little comparison shopping by using sites such as Google Shopping or Pricewatch.com.
Give Yourself a Gift
Invest in “you” this holiday season. Open a new savings account, take financial education classes, or look for low interest loans to help you achieve your financial dreams this coming year. Come see us or visit us online for possibilities.