We are counting down the days until Christmas!   We’ve survived Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, when retailers offer deals we just can’t live without!  For those who braved the cold waiting for stores to open their doors, and spent countless hours on the computer, well done!  For the rest of us, good luck! 

Online shopping is a wonderful way to shop if you  have neither the time or desire to get out there and search for the best bargains, but either way, in person, or online, buyers beware!  You must be sure you are cyber-safe!  Before you decide to make online purchases, you should have good antivirus software.  If you get suspicious emails or pop-ups with bargains that are too good to be true – they are!  The Better Business Bureau advises us to make sure each online purchase is made on a secure website.  It is best to shop with reputable businesses; when you place your order, look for the “s” in “https//” and in the lower right corner of the browser, there should be a padlock.  This ensures you that that your personal information is safe.  

Some stores offer credit cards that promise huge incentives with a large one-time only discount.  If you plan to make large purchases, it might be worth taking advantage of this offer.  However, some stores add higher interest to balances, so it would be best to pay it off right away.  Be sure you keep all receipts.  Some electronic items and special orders may require a re-stocking fee.  It could cost you from 10% to 25% if not returned in a factory-sealed box.  

Do your homework.  Plan ahead by doing comparative shopping before buying.  Avoid impulse buying.  Be sure the gifts you choose will be used, and not just put away in a closet.  Getting a “wish list” from your family members ensures that you are giving them something they really would enjoy.  We hope you have also given some thought to some “cool” safety items that would be put to good use by workers who wear hardhats, safety glasses, high vis safety gloves, and other protective products.

When you are out there in the “real” shopping world, take extra precautions.  There are some persons just waiting to switch your purse with an empty one, or pick someone’s pocket.  It’s best not to carry a large purse, but keep your money, checks and credit cards concealed in a small purse or bag under your sweater or coat.  Don’t wear expensive jewelry when you are shopping in large crowds, and always be aware of your surroundings.  If you have several packages, take them to your car, rather than risk leaving one of them in a store.  Be sure that they are in the trunk or out of sight in your locked vehicle.  Carry some wet wipes or small