Shopping can be a hectic undertaking, especially during certain times of the year such as around the holidays. As retailers offer more specials and sales the stores get more crowded. As the stores get more crowded, the opportunity for thieves to strike increases. Make sure that when you are out trying to spend wisely and save money you don’t end up becoming the victim of a crook. Always keep your eyes on your purse or wallet and never leave either unattended even for a moment. Also pay attention to what is happening to your credit card when you hand it over to a clerk or store employee. Make sure you get it back and put it safely away in your wallet after each transaction.
Sometimes criminals aren’t the only ones we need to protect ourselves and our money from. You should also protect yourself from you. What does that mean?
First of all, don’t completely blow your budget.
Before you dash off to shop, sit down and make a list. Write down the things you intend to shop for. If you are buying gifts, list the names of the people for whom you need to purchase items. Then write down the maximum amount you plan to spend and stick to it! When at the store don’t allow yourself to go over that number even if you find a sale or other items that aren’t already on your list. Impulsive spending is a quick and easy way to go into debt. One effective method to prevent overspending is to use cash. Carry with you the exact amount you have planned on spending and when you run out you know it’s time to go home.
Take precautions with your plastic.
If you are going to hit the mall and use a credit card for purchases, bring only one card with you. Spreading your spending over several cards may make it seem like you are spending less, but you could easily overspend your budget that way. Also, having balances due on several different cards is much more difficult to keep track of, and makes it easier to miss payments.
By having only one card on you, should your purse or wallet get stolen, thieves won’t have multiple cards to play with.
However, be mindful of the charges you are piling up on that one card. This is to not only make sure that you stay well within your budget, but also to make sure that you don’t spend over 60% of your credit limit. Charging over that mark will make your credit suffer, as your available credit to debt ratio factors highly into your credit score.
Resist the temptation to take advantage of offers you’ll encounter at the register of some retailers for store credit cards. Although it may seem like you are saving money by utilizing a percentage off bonus for signing up for a store credit card
, it is usually not a great move. With those cards, credit lines tend to be low and APR’s high, making them a serious threat to your financial health and ultimately your credit score.