7 Smart Tips For Shopping Safely During the Holidays

The first week we discussed the importance of starting your holiday spending with a plan. Last week’s tips were shared for how to find the best prices and deals during the holidays. Now we must address one of the uglier realities of the season, misleading advertising and consumer scams. Busy moms need to be even more vigilant.

Since we tend to spend more time shopping during the holidays, it is a good time to make sure we are protecting ourselves and our money. Not only do consumers need to be careful with their personal financial information but we also need to be careful about what purchases we are making. 

Caveat emptoris Latin for let the buyer beware. Companies will try and entice you to buy, but it is up to the savvy consumer to do the research required to make an informed purchase. So this holiday season before you head out to the stores, the mall or your personal laptop to shop, consider these 7 tips to protect yourself and your money.

1. Ask questions before you buy. If the salesperson cannot answer your questions ask for someone more knowledgeable. Make a note of who you spoke with in case you need to refer back at a later date. If shopping with an online store, keep the emails of any correspondence in case you need to refer back later.

2. Beware of prices that seem too good to be true. I was a victim of this when trying to buy a popular boot style for my daughter years ago. I thought I was getting a deal after locating the boot at a lower price only to have it arrive and look not quite right. It was a knock-off, made to look like the original but definitely not the original brand.

3. Understand the product warranty.  Some products come with a manufacturer’s warranty but ask specifically what it covers especially for a big ticket item. If a warranty only covers a manufacturing defect you should know this before taking it back because your child broke it accidently during the first week.

4. Read the online reviews and ask friends for their reviews. People love sharing their bad experiences with a store or company but you also want to find out when a company did a great job. Ask friends for input on where they have shopped and would they go back?

6. Return polices can change during the holiday season. Do not assume that the policy is the same; always check before you make a purchase. Some stores will only offer in-store credit or a shortened return period. Be clear before you buy. Online stores often have an additional step when it comes to making returns. Some stores will require you to email or contact them to get authorization to make the return. They will then email you a return label. Again, do not assume if you don’t like something you can just mail it back and get a refund.

7. All sales are not created equal so read the fine print. Exceptions, exclusions, limited quantity, maximum per person, open box, floor sample and final sale all must be disclosed to the consumer. Sometimes these sale terms are not obvious, so it is up to the consumer to read all the fine print before making a purchase.

Next week we will look at your use of credit during the holiday. Find out what your purchases will really cost!

Asalyn Coachman is a Registered Representative of and offers Securities through The O.N. Equity Sales Company, Member FINRA/SIPC, 39395 W Twelve Mile Rd., Ste 102 Farmington Hills, MI 48331 (248) 482-3600. Investment Advisory Services offered through O.N. Investment Management Company.  Financial Architects, Inc. and Mother Honestly are not subsidiaries or affiliates of The O.N. Equity Sales Company or O.N. Investment Management Company