November 5, 2020

Woman wearing winter hat holding shopping bags

Holiday shopping will look a little different this year as retailers large and small try to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

While the hottest Black Friday deals have historically been found in-stores as early as Thanksgiving evening, the best deals this year will likely be found online in order to reduce crowds and the risk they pose to consumers during a pandemic. Many retailers have already confirmed that their doors would remain closed on Thanksgiving; many, too, have started offering online and in-store holiday sales as early as November 1st to encourage consumers to shop early.

Whether you plan to shop in the big box stores, at a local small business, or online, there are ways to beat the madness, shop safely, and save money! Here are a few tips LUSO put together to help you shop smart this holiday season:

Do Your Homework

Don’t get caught in the frenzy of the holiday shopping season. It’s tempting to toss items in your cart because the sales are too good to pass up but giving into the impulse could actually cost you money! Do your homework and figure out your holiday shopping list/budget before you shop. By giving yourself a set budget plus a list of items to purchase for each person, you can limit the potential for impulse buys. If you’re shopping in-store, bring cash for only what you plan on spending (and leave the credit cards at home!); you’ll be less likely to overspend this way.  

Beware of Low-Quality Products

Sometimes retailers will sell products that seem great for the offered price…until you really look at their specifications. This can include TVs with lower resolution, cameras with fewer megapixels, or tablets/gaming systems with less storage. Before you hit the checkout, make sure you check your specs!

Ask for a Lower Price

If, during the course of your research, you find an item listed at a cheaper price than where you’re shopping, see if the store you’re at will match it. If not, you can always leave the item behind and pick it up at the other store for a lower price.

Avoid the Crowds by Shopping Online

The easiest way to shop safely during the pandemic is to shop online. Many online retailers, including Amazon, are already offering holiday sale prices on select items. Shop daily deals on Amazon’s Holiday Dash—which includes discounts on items across multiple categories from toys to fashion, electronics, home, kitchen and beauty—or visit your favorite online retailer now to check out what holiday deals they’re offering.

Be Tech Savvy

Speaking of online shopping…did you know there are web browser add-ons and mobile apps that can help you ensure you’re getting a holiday bargain?

  • Honey is a browser extension/mobile app that does the work for you: when you’re shopping online, it searches the web for coupon codes applicable to your specific purchases before you check out. If it finds one, the code will automatically be applied to your cart to save you money.
  • CamelCamelCamel is another browser extension that tracks price fluctuations on Amazon. If you have a Wishlist in your Amazon account, it can watch the price history of those items to ensure you’re not jumping at a “discount” that’s only marginally below a previously marked up price.

Protect Your Identity

Whether you shop in-person or online, it’s always important to safeguard your personal information! Keeping your personal data safe and always being on the lookout for fraudulent transactions could help protect you from identity theft:

  • Keep an eye on your credit card and bank statements and alert your financial institution of any fraudulent charges. LUSO Federal Credit Union members benefit from Fraud Detection, a 24/7 fraud monitoring and detection service. When a transaction is not consistent with your usual card activity, you will get a call from “Fraud Detection” to verify the authenticity of the transaction.
  • Download a digital wallet app to your mobile phone and you won’t need to carry your debit or credit card with you. Digital wallets – like Apple PaySamsung Pay, or Google Pay – allow you to make secure payments with just your mobile device. And since most digital wallets encrypt your account information, the account number that is transmitted to the merchant when you make a payment is not your actual account number. Your account details are kept secure, making it harder for a security breach to happen.

Above all, don’t be duped by the hype of the holiday shopping kickoff. Be patient and prepared and you’ll find the best deals.

LUSO Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative dedicated to providing members with quality financial services and products. We at LUSO pride ourselves on serving the financial needs of our members and helping them save for the special occasions in life.   

Feel free to contact our Ludlow or Wilbraham branch toll free at 1-844-LUSO-FCU.

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