5 budget tips for your next gift shopping trip

Whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or maybe a “just because,” whatever the reason it’s no secret: we love to shop. But not all shopping trips are made equal, especially if you’re not best utilizing your time and money. Here are some tips to help you stay on track with minimal financial regrets:

  • Make a list and stick to it – By planning ahead, you’ll shop with intentionality and purpose, which will lower the chances of impulsive or unnecessary spending.
  • “I made this” – Sometimes the perfect gift can’t be bought. And other times money is just a little tight. Whatever the reason, creating something from the heart is always in fashion and shows how much you care for those important to you. You can check Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and/or countless other DIY blogs for creative ideas.
  • A shopper’s favorite four-letter word: SALE – Keep an eye on ads and look for the best deals on the items on your list. And depending on the retailer, you might be able to get items price-matched if it’s cheaper elsewhere. That’s why it’s worth the time and effort to comparison shop.
  • Divide and conquer – Some stores offer special “buy one get one” (BOGO) promotions. If an item you need is eligible for a BOGO deal, bring a friend with you and split the savings. You’ll both come out ahead.
  • Reward yourself – If you’re going to shop, you might as well be getting something back for it. Certain credit cards offer rewards for every dollar spent, which can be redeemed for thigs like travel miles, merchandise, or sometimes even cash!

Stay safe online when you buy

When it comes to price, selection, and convenience, very few things can compare with online shopping. But don’t let the benefits lull you into a false sense of safety and complacency. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself a victim of identity theft and fraud. Here are some security tips and best practices to follow for your next online shopping trip:

  • An extra layer of protection – Certain restrictions and differences may apply depending on the issuer, but by shopping with a credit card the amount of personal financial liability you have for fraudulent purchases is low to none due to the built-in insurance. Another safe card option available is using a prepaid credit card. Prepaid credit cards work by adding a specified dollar amount to the card, which you then can use much in the same manner as you would a gift card. Once the balance is gone, you can add more, or simply dispose of it and purchase a new one. Prepaid cards are available for purchase at many retailers and possesses the intrinsic benefit of anonymity since your personal information is not associated with the card itself. If the card is stolen, criminals would only be able to steal whatever value is left on the card, if at all. 
  • Verify websites – While trying to find the best deals online might take up the majority of our thoughts when shopping, it’s important to also keep in mind the security of the websites themselves. Not all websites come with the same level of security and confidence. Whereas a large retailer’s website might come with a litany of security measures and protocols, a small “out-of-home” store might not have the capabilities or see the need to offer secure shopping. Opportunistic criminals might in turn be able to steal information that you provided, including things such as your personal and credit information. In order to identify if the website you’re on is secure, the URL will start with https:// instead of http://. Secure sites also have a small lock icon in the upper left corner of the screen.
  • Avoid public networks – With the increasing popularity of working at cafes or other social locations, the urge to take care of some online shopping while you’re out and about can grow quite high. However, if you do plan to make any purchases, it’s best to do it at home. Public access points and public computers provide thieves with the chance to comb the network and steal all kinds of information. You also run the risk of having all kinds of spyware, malware, and bloatware infect your computer. So, if you really need some online retail therapy, your best bet is to wait until you get home.

3 reasons to start using your Mobile Wallet 

If you have a smartphone, you probably have a Mobile Wallet waiting to be used. What your Mobile Wallet offers is a world of financial convenience, enhanced security, and user-friendly efficiency like you’ve never experienced before. With Apple Pay, Masterpass, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and many others, your Mobile Wallet represents a shift towards a more digital form of payment—through the “tap and pay” functionality available through near field communication (NFC) technology for in-store transactions and integration with an ever-growing number of online shopping websites. Wondering if Mobile Wallet is for you? Here are three reasons to make the switch today:

  • Enhanced convenience and greater efficiency – No more digging in your purse or fumbling with your wallet trying to find the right card! Complete your transaction with a simple tap of your smartphone at checkout. No one wants to be stuck in crowds longer than they absolutely have to, so get in and get out.
  • Better organization – You can store multiple cards in your Mobile Wallet helping you to organize everything from credit cards, membership cards, customer loyalty cards, and more.
  • Safety and security – Payments made with your Mobile Wallet use unique transaction identifiers or tokens instead of storing your credit card information, which can help enhance the security of your data.

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