Stretching Your Dollar... Holiday saving tips

By Maureen O'Boyle - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - If you are scrambling to finish up your Christmas shopping, keep in mind, the six holiday shopping GOTCHAs by Consumer Reports.

Watch out if you are shopping with a debit card.  Many banks will let your purchase go through even if the funds aren't there.  Then, you could be charged up to $39 in an overdraft charge.  If you can't use cash, consider a credit card that you can pay off the balance of each month.

The Deep Discount Price Bait is something you will find online where ridiculously low prices are offered.  It is important to shop with companies you know.

If you've walked the mall for hours and can't find the right gift, you might be tempted to get gift cards.  As Linda and Lisa Holley found, they don't always hold their value. Read the fine print on the Gift Card Fees.

"You actually have to use it pretty fast, I think one store said a month", according to Lisa Holley.

All stores have different policies.  Read the fine print and consider giving cash.

If you're not sure that your score at the mall will be a homerun, Karen Crunden of Denver, has some good advice about giving gift cards.

"I normally always give it with gift receipts, this way, if there's ever a question, they pretty much won't have a problem," Crunden said.

Get the lowdown on the return policy of the gifts you're buying and get gift receipts.

This leads to another important rule, especially with big ticket items.  Find out if there is a 'restocking fee'.  Some stores will charge you up to 25 percent of the cost of the item if the packaging has been opened.

There really isn't a good value in most extended warranties.  Consumer reports suggests that if the warranty costs more than 20 percent of the purchase price, it is simply not worth it.

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