ACCC Offers a Financial Plan of Attack this Holiday Season

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American Consumer Credit Counseling offers consumers guidance on how to be financially smart while bargain shopping.

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While the holidays are an exciting time, consumers need to have a plan of action and be cognizant of bad deals. It is just as important that they make a budget and commit to it – even in the face of attractive deals.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark both consumers’ and retailers’ favorite shopping days of the year. To start off the busy shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, retailers often offer consumers the best and most enticing promotional deals. In preparation for the holiday shopping spree, national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling offers consumers guidance on how to be a smart shopper during the most tantalizing time of the year.

“Both retailers and consumers benefit from Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling, which is based in Newton, MA. “While the holidays are an exciting time, consumers need to have a plan of action and be cognizant of bad deals. It is just as important that they make a budget and commit to it – even in the face of attractive deals.”

The National Retail Federation predicts that holiday sales will reach $630.5 billion, a 3.7 percent increase from last year. Online sales are expected to increase anywhere between six and eight percent. Almost half of consumers – 46 percent – said that they will do majority of their holiday shopping online, which is up from last year’s 44 percent.

ACCC shares a plan of attack for consumers on how to be financially savvy this shopping season:

1. Be prepared and plan ahead – Know what you want and exactly how you will get it. Do your research before heading to the stores. Study advertisements and compare prices at several different stores to ensure you are getting the best deal.

2. Make a budget and stick with it – Resist impulse buying by deciding exactly how much money you plan to spend.

3. Check store policies – Be aware of the return and exchange policy at the stores you choose to shop at. Some stores will only offer store credit or will charge a restocking fee for each returned item.

4. Research the product – Make sure you check the reviews for each product. Check expert sites as well as consumer reviews before you buy the item. Just because it seems like a good deal does not make it a good product. Don’t fall victim to buying something just because it’s cheap.

5. Get an early start – Many stores offer early bird specials or extra discounts to the first customers in line. Do your research and find out when the store near you will open and get there a couple hours before to secure a good spot upfront. Many sale items also have limited quantities.

6. Use a credit card – Use a credit card over a debit card whenever possible. A fraudulent charge on a credit card can be an annoyance, but you are protected. A fraudulent charge on a debit card gives cyber criminals direct access to your bank account.

7. Choose a different password – Do not open yourself up to potential risk by reusing passwords on shopping sites and matching them to passwords you use on bank or social media sites.

8. Verify security of website – Before purchasing online and entering any credit card information verify that the website is secure. Look for an HTTPS in the URL. This means all communication between your browser and the website are encrypted. HTTPS is often used to protect highly confidential online transactions like online shopping and banking.

ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

  • For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
  • For bankruptcy counseling, call 866-826-6924
  • For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
  • Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com

About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. ACCC provides individuals with practical debt solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers’ financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nation’s leading providers of financial education and credit counseling services, ACCC’s certified credit advisors work with consumers to help them determine the best plan of action to get out of debt and regain financial stability. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.

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Marissa Sullivan
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