Every year you probably tell yourself that this holiday season you’re not going to overspend and wind up with a mountain of debt come New Year’s Day. But then you hit the holiday sales, you get swept up in the spirit of giving, you second-guess your choices and end up spending more, and you see deals that are simply too good to pass up, even though making the purchase means exceeding your budget. In other words, you fail year after year when it comes to saving money. However, you can increase awareness of what you’re spending, and more importantly, why you’re spending, in order to cut costs and stick to your set budget this year. Here are a few Christmas shopping tips to get the gifts you want at a price you can afford. [click to continue…]

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Shopping online can be daunting, especially if you have never done it before. Don’t worry, you are not alone – there are countless people that refuse to shop online because of the safety risks. When it comes down to it, there is a good reason to be hesitant: billions of dollars are lost each year as a result of credit card and identity theft. Although, through technology and other safety measures, online retailers have made online shopping safety a priority, and with some careful background checking, you can now shop to your heart’s desire without worrying about getting taken advantage of. Here are some online shopping safety basics for newbies.

  1. Make sure the payment gateway is safe. One of the most important things to look for when shopping online is a safe, secure and trusted payment gateway. You can usually find out if it is safe by looking at the seals or certifications granted to the seller. Also, many online auction retailers – like Buy Sell Make Offer, Inc. – use Paypal as a payment gateway, which is one of the safest in the industry.
  2. Do your research about the seller. It is also imperative to your research about the seller. The last thing you want is to purchase from a seller and then realize that the site was merely a shell to steal credit card numbers. Usually, you can search the name of the business online. You want to look for reviews, business history – anything that you can find to ensure that the business is legitimate. If you can’t find anything, you probably shouldn’t do business with the seller.
  3. Go with a main retailer if you don’t trust a certain site. If you don’t trust a certain site and you can’t find any peer reviews, you shouldn’t purchase the product you are looking for with that seller. If that is the case, you want to find a seller that is legitimate and trustworthy. The best way to find a more trustworthy retailer is to go with a bigger seller – a seller with name recognition. You can probably bet that you will be safer shopping with a name-brand retailer, like Amazon or EBay.
  4. Look for the country of the seller. When you are doing research on a certain online retailer, you want to look for the country of origin. This is often a great way to know if the seller is legitimate or not. For instance, if you are looking for a major appliance, it may be strange that it is selling in a country that isn’t known for selling that particular item. If the seller location seems suspicious, you should probably shop somewhere else.
  5. Never enter more information than your name, shipping and credit card info. When it comes to actually entering your credit card information, you should never enter more than your shipping and billing address, and your credit number – you should never have to add your social security number. If a seller asks for your social, you should probably not do business with that seller. In the end, your social should never be given out online.

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