Ten Tips to Survive the Holidays Without Going Broke — Shopping Tips, Part II — NMBankruptcyBlog.com

Present 3

This is a tough season when money is tight (and always a tough season for resisting impulse buying).  One of my favorite legal self-help publishers has an article I’m running in series, on 12/1, 12/8, 12/15 and 1/14.

Tips to keep in mind, thanks to Nolo.

This is Part 2, “Shopping Tips” continued:

Get started early. Good deals are often available before the official holiday shopping season starts on the day after Thanksgiving. Prices are usually lower, you have more time to take advantage of mail order bargains, and you can find some great deals on models that are being phased out toward the end of the year.

Look for good gifts that are also good buys. Learn about the features and options available on particular products, especially expensive items such as cameras, video equipment, sporting goods, stereos, and computers. Read up on different makes and models so you won’t be swayed by the more costly recommendations of zealous (and commission-hungry) salespeople.

Once you’ve narrowed the field, look for bargains. Studies have shown major price variations — often 50% or more — in the same area for identical products, especially audio-video and computer equipment. Don’t assume that prices are always lower in catalogs or on television shopping channels, no matter what their ads claim.

Know the store’s return policies before you buy. Because sales help is often transient during the holiday season, and temporary employees may not be fully informed of store policies, ask the clerk to write the refund policy on the receipt if it’s not printed there.

Avoid buying unnecessary warranties. Resist the pressure to buy an extended warranty or service contract for most products. Extended warranties often duplicate the product’s existing warranty and rarely are worth the extra cost.

For every rule, there’s an exception, however: Consumer Reports does suggest that you consider extended warranties for laptops and some types of TVs: LCD, plasma flat panels, and some rear-projection TVs.

Keep records of all your purchases. To make sure you stay on track, keep all sales receipts. Receipts will also come in handy when monitoring your credit card statements.

Reprinted with permission from the publisher, Nolo, Copyright 2009, Nolo

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