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Golden Rules for Holiday Shopping!

Joseph M. Jennings, Jr., CFA, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, PNC Wealth Management | 12/1/2017, 6 a.m.
If you bought the gifts in the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” it would cost a record $34,558.65, ...
It would cost a whopping $34,558.65 for all the gifts in the holiday classic “The Twelve Days of Christmas” this holiday season,” according to the 34th annual PNC Christmas Price Index. Photo Credit: Metro Graphics

If you bought the gifts in the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” it would cost a record $34,558.65, according to the 34th annual PNC Christmas Price Index. Few have a budget for all those birds and performers, but ‘tis the season to get carried away. Here are a few spending tips so you don’t overstuff the stockings— or your budget!

1. Be choosy: Identify your special partridge and pare down your list to those you’re actually close to. Don’t guilt-buy for those far-away relatives who will re-gift your tacky present anyways. If you can’t resist, create a funny e-card for free.

2. Create a budget: Don’t be one of the geese who lays a spending egg. Once you know who you’re buying for, decide how much you will spend per person. If $15 is all you can afford per person, then spend $15 – not $17 or $20. If that seems a bit Scrooge-like, tell your friends/family to set the same limits for you. Take advantage of online budgeting tools to set limits with text or email alerts to warn you.

3. Find the bargains: Be surfing while the swans are a swimming. Look for coupons and Groupons. When it comes to online shopping, there’s a cost for convenience. PNC calculates the online cost of the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gifts is $45,096.00, which is 30 percent over the in-person approach. But you can save by watching for free shipping offers and no-hassle returns plus there’s Cyber Monday deals and Free Shipping Day on December 15, 2017.

4. Get crafty: Handy drummers are drumming up their own gifts. Whip up a few dozen batches of your special cookies, cake pops or brownies, package in pretty baskets with a bow and call it a day. Who on your list wouldn’t love a homemade treat over a store-bought gift?

5. Pay smartly: Like the maids, milk the most out of your money. Pre-paid cards mean you only spend a set amount and are perfect for kids to learn how to buy for others and stay on budget. Cash in on your credit card reward points to buy gifts. When using credit, make sure you have a plan to pay off your balance. For online payments, look for security or privacy seals first before submitting information. The payment page should have a lock icon and the address should start with “https”.

Be Aware of These 6 Holiday Ho Ho Hoaxes

Attention shoppers: a Monday Christmas holiday may mean an extra-long weekend for you to shop ‘til you drop, but fraudsters see it as more opportunity to trick innocent holiday revelers with holiday-related scams. From Black Friday to New Year’s Eve, take steps to help reduce the risk of fraud this season by learning about these common holiday scams and tips to protect yourself.

1. Gift Card Fraud

Gift cards – both electronic and plastic – are a popular option for gift-givers. For the eleventh year in a row, 61 percent of consumers want gift cards as a holiday present, according to the National Retail Federation. But gift cards also are highly prone to fraud. Because they do not contain customer information, they are not traceable and scammers can get money fast. In fact, downloadable e-gift cards carry the highest risk of fraud. According to Radial’s Annual Holiday Fraud Index, e-gift card fraud generally happens 10 times more during the holiday season but surges to 25 times more likely on December 26 and remains high until the new year. Guard against gift card fraud with these tips: