1. Don’t carry your checkbook or more credit cards than you will use during your shopping trip. If you lose your wallet, this will limit potential damage to your bank account and credit card(s).
2. Don’t pile new debt on top of old debt. The Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Delaware Valley reports that some people are still paying for the 2009 holiday expenses. If that’s you, make some significant cutbacks. Your friends and relatives will understand.
3. Don’t be instantly lured by in-store credit card offers. Sure, you get that discount on the item you’re buying, but a high interest rate could make you pay more in the long run if you can’t pay the full bill at the end of this busy shopping month—and that’s on top of what having another credit card might do to your credit score.
4. Don’t buy anything, especially electronics, without first checking the retailer’s return policy. Many policies have changed this year because of the losses companies have felt from return fraud. Some will only give store credit, while others have reduced the return policy to 30 days. Plus, restocking fees can be 10-20 percent.