The good news: holiday cheer is most definitely here! The holidays are a special time with friends, family and the community. There is an infectious spirit of generosity and appreciation that remind us what we value each day. The holidays, as we know, are also a time of big spending. Sales, deals, gifts galore! Sometimes all of the shopping hype can cause stress—or worse, debt and forgotten or unpaid bills.
To help you stay on track this winter, check out some of our tips for holiday shopping success:
Make your budget and check it twice
Before you get too far into your holiday shopping, take a step back and establish a maximum spending allowance for yourself. Brainstorm all of the potential extra spending you’ll have this season—think about things like gifts, food, travel, parties and special events. Once you have a list in place, make sure your buckets of spending are reasonable—can you truly afford tickets to a concert if you know you have New Year’s travel plans coming up? How many gifts will you need to buy this year? Is there a way to get creative on gift-giving with family and friends so everyone can save more, but still enjoy time together?
Budgeting can help you stay on track with your spending so you feel secure in your plan and process without inadvertently bouncing checks or incurring overdraft fees.
Give yourself the gift of a good credit score
Whether you like it or not, your credit score won’t go on vacation when you do this holiday season; and unfortunately, no matter how much you deserve it, a good credit score won’t appear wrapped up under the tree. However, during a high-spending time of the year, it’s more important than ever to look out for your credit score which has an influence on things such as loan applications and interest rates.
Be sure you stick to best practices for managing credit, even during a busy season. Remember to pay your bills in full and on time, track how much you’re putting on one particular bill, and be wary of new credit inquiries that can affect your credit score and encourage large purchases you can’t truly afford.
Keep your personal information safe and secure
More and more, consumers are choosing online shopping for the gift-buying needs. While online shopping is fast and convenient, there are also risks to keep in mind—primarily, protecting your personal information.
We recommend you monitor your accounts closely and keep track of what you’re purchasing. When you make an online purchase, only use the checkout directly from the website, and be wary of emails asking for your personal information. Bookmark your shopping sites, and do all your shopping and transactions from that bookmark to be sure you’re using a legitimate retailer’s site.
Now is also an excellent time to make sure your devices and apps are updated, and we recommend you review your passwords to confirm they’re unique and strong (learn more here). For the highest security, you can keep your list of passwords saved in a “password vault” instead of writing them down (learn more here).
If you detect fraud or identity theft, it’s important that you act quickly. Did you know? Whether you’re paying with your Camden National Bank chip card or digital payment technology, we’ve got 24/7 fraud monitoring looking for anything out of the ordinary so you can shop easy.