With just two weeks to go before Christmas, many consumers are looking for safer and more efficient ways to shop. At this time of the year, it is particularly important to practice financial responsibility and to take precautions to ensure secure transactions
On Monday, the Bankers Association launched its “Stretch your dollar this Christmas” financial education campaign for the second consecurive year, to teach people about how to maximize the resources they have available to buy everything on their list without breaking the bank.
“We want to provide consumers with information to help them manage their money effectively during the holiday season so they can protect their financial health,” said Bankers Association Executive Vice President Arturo Carrión. “We’re aware of the economic challenges that the holiday season presents, so we want to give them the tools they need to get the most out of their budget and enjoy the holidays without worries.”
Those steps include following tips such as the following:
- Prepare a budget – The number of gifts and presents on that shopping list increases during the holidays. Visa recommends consumers prepare a list of friends and family members they want to buy gifts for and estimate the cost of each present before going shopping.
- Determine “need” versus “wish” – The credit card company also advices consumers to reassess priorities during this holiday season and the needs of the people for whom they will be buying gifts.
- Be realistic – Determine what you can pay and avoid impulsive buying. Taking advantage of great offers and sales during the holidays might not be the correct mindset or the most financially sound option for your future. If you use your debit card, you use the funds you already have. Always bear in mind how much money is available in your account to ensure you do not go over the limit. Remember to make sure you have enough funds available to pay for the purchase.
- Don’t wait until the last minute –the prices of the items you are looking for might go up as the holiday season gets closer. Take some time to evaluate your options. Remember some stores have the same items available on the Internet and you can compare the online price to the store price.
- Be creative and cut your spending – small, thoughtful gestures can be the most significant. A personalized gift you have made yourself can be great, lovely and inexpensive.
- Secret Santa can also lend a hand – if the list of gift recipients is too long and the budget is tight, meet with your friends and family and agree on a reasonable price for one gift and do a gift exchange. That way everyone saves and gets a gift while enjoying quality time together.
- Be vigilant at all times while shopping – make sure you sign your card as soon as you receive it, that the card returned to you when you pay at a store is your own and that the amount on the receipt is correct. Do not leave your card unattended at any time, particularly during this time of the year when the number of people shopping is significantly higher.
- Review your bank statement regularly – always reconcile your statement and receipts. Remember you can take advantage of the online banking service offered by your financial institution, which allows you to review your account daily.
- Beware of unsolicited emails – at this time of the year, the number of holiday promotions you receive via email increases. Visa recommends you refrain from clicking on links in unsolicited emails and from giving any card information or revealing your password via email. Visa will never send you an email requesting your credit card number or password. When you open an email from your bank, make sure you initiated the communication with the bank. Otherwise, call the bank and ask about the source of the email.
- If your card is lost or stolen – Report the incident to your bank immediately. Keep a list of your account numbers and contact telephone numbers in a safe place so you will be able to call your bank as soon as possible if your card is lost or stolen.
Meanwhile, Carrión also urged consumers to be cautious in their spending to avoid excessive debt and protect their personal and financial information from being victims of fraud schemes.