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Shopping mistakes to avoid

Seven On Your Side
December 14, 2011 2:27:20 PM PST
With only 11 days of shopping left, don't let last minute mean you make some costly mistakes. A Consumer Reports poll shows the average person goes overboard by $811. To avoid it, map out a limit and avoid the remorse.

Post-holiday blues also includes crumbling credit, so stick to cash or your debit card to stay on track.

The "Buy now, Pay later" arrangement is also a sure way to blow your budget. But, on major purchases, charging it on a credit card can protect you too.

"On big ticket items in particular things that you're afraid might break with shipping, you might want to use a credit card," says Amanda Walker of Consumer Reports.

She also warns shoppers not to make the mistake of paying for a warranty. Research and product testing have shown that the "at the register" sales pitch is not worth the money. Repairs are usually less than the warranty costs anyway.

"It tends to be unnecessary insurance, we've looked at brand reliability for decades we found that products tend to not break during the term of the extended warranty," she explains.

And if you think haggling's only for the flea market, think again.

Don't make the mistake of forgetting to haggle, even for high-end items you wouldn't think could be discounted.

"You can haggle anywhere, in department stores, you can haggle online," Walker says. "Your best bet if you're doing it in person: go off hours so the sales people have more time to talk to you and they won't be crazy busy. Always be polite and just ask for a better price."

In the last minute shopping frenzy, many give up trying to find that perfect gift and opt for the go-to gift card. Always look out for upfront fees and expiration dates as millions on gift cards go unused every year.

"Think twice about buying them for people. Make sure it's something they really want and it's a store they definitely will shop in," Walker advises.

Don't forget to check the store's return policy too. There are hefty restocking fees and time limits on how long you have for returns or exchanges. Make sure you check both online and in the store and tell the gift recipient what the policy is so they're happy and you're happy!

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