Grab your shopping bags and compile your lists. The biggest holiday shopping weekend - Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday - is almost here.
Here are some tips to help make your shopping adventure go as smoothly as possible:
• Create a budget and stick to it.
According to the National Retail Federation, the average holiday shopper will spend $750 on gifts, decor, greeting cards and other seasonal items this year.
How can you keep from overspending? BBB and Clearpoint Credit Solutions offer the Holiday Planner Calculator (video.bbb.org/clearpoint-holiday-tips/clearpoint-holiday-budgeting-calculator.html), an easy-to-use online tool that helps you create a budget for the way you plan to celebrate, entertain, travel and give gifts.
• Don't fall for the too-good-to-be-true deal
On Black Friday (and every day), get to know retailers first by checking out their BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org. Compare prices before you hit the stores so you know if you really are getting a great deal. When searching for coupons online, make sure to get them from the store's website, not from an offsite deal promoter.
• Shop small on Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is dedicated to supporting small businesses, many of whom will offer special events, entertainment and promotions on this day. BBB is teaming up with American Express, a BBB Accredited Business and national partner, to spread the word on why small businesses are so awesome.
• Watch out for scams
The new BBB Scam Stopper website explains the latest scams and helps you learn common tactics used by scam artists both in person and online.
For example, be sure that letter from Santa is from a legitimate site before you share your child's personal information. And that friend or grandchild who was mugged while traveling and needs some cash wired ASAP? That's probably a scam, too.
• Shop safely online
Online deals will dominate Cyber Monday. Before surfing the net, make sure your computer has the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
Only shop on trusted websites; look for the BBB seal as well as the Ad Choices logo for sites that give you more control over whether advertisers can use your information for targeted advertising. Use a credit card when shopping online in case you need to dispute charges later.
• Know your rights
Whether shopping retail or online, know your rights. U.S. law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren't shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund.
Consumers also have the right to reject merchandise if it's defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it's the company's policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit, so be sure you understand return policies before you buy. Keep track of all receipts and documentation, too.
For more consumer tips and information, visit wynco.bbb.org or call the BBB for Colorado at (800) 564-0371.