Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost here, are you prepared?

Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday are considered some of the biggest shopping days of the year. Millions of shoppers are planning and plotting how they’re going to get their hands on big-tickets items at half the cost. Whether you prefer the crowds or prefer shopping at home, BBB advises you:

  1. Plan ahead. Take time to print out or clip ads for items you are interested in buying to help outline your shopping day in advance.
  2. Create a budget. Know whom you are buying gifts for and how much you are willing to spend. As you buy gifts, keep track of the cost and avoid impulse purchases to prevent over-spending.
  3. Research products. Just because an item is in high-demand and being offered at a cheap price, doesn’t mean the product is worthwhile or right for you; a bad product is a bad product no matter how cheap it costs. Be sure to thoroughly research any product you’re interested in purchasing.
  4. Don’t be misled by tricky advertisements. Read the fine print on all advertised sales to make sure you are truly saving money, and bring the ad with you. Watch for discrepancies in advertised prices and the prices on the shelf. Verify the real price before checking out.
  5. Ask about return policies. Many stores have a 30-day return policy, but it is important to read the terms and conditions associated with each purchase. And remember that the refund policy usually applies to the day you purchase the item not when you give the item as a gift.
  6. Think twice about opening store credit cards. Some retailers will offer additional savings to incentivize consumers to sign up for their credit card. However, these cards often times carry high interest rates or annual fees. If you do not plan on shopping at a particular retailer very often, the credit card might not be financially beneficial for you.
  7. Shop on trustworthy websites. Check a seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction at bbb.org. And look for the “s” in https:// in the address box to ensure you’re shopping on a secure website.
  8. Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, charges made on a credit card can be disputed if the item is never received. Many card issuers also have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
  9. Verify shipping and delivery dates. Pay close attention to the estimated delivery time to ensure you will get your item before Christmas. Federal law requires that orders made online be shipped by the date promised, however, if no delivery time is stated, stores have up to 30 days to get the item to you.
  10. Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or an email confirmation. Print and save any confirmations for future reference.