Retailers may call the start of the holiday shopping season Gray Thursday and Black Friday but Katrina Wright, vice president for community development and for BankUnited, N.A. warns consumers may see red when the bills come due in January with not enough money to pay them.
"Holiday shopping has become a large part of the festivities for many people," Wright said. "While taking advantage of some of the great sales, consumers just need to be careful to stick to a plan and to not get caught up in the frenzy."
A banking industry veteran with 25 years of related experience, Wright earned a bachelor's degree from Florida A&M University and was honored as one of the 25 "Most Influential and Prominent Black Women in Business," by South Florida Legacy Magazine.
Responsible for coordinating and facilitating BankUnited's community development initiatives in Florida including financial education programs, she offers these holiday shopping tips from the American Bankers Association:
- Set your limits: Realistically budget what you can afford to spend including how much you may take from savings. If you plan to use a credit card, consider how much money you are comfortable charging, knowing your bill will come due the next month.
- Look at the big picture: When setting your budget don't forget to include expenses such as gift wrap, decorations, food, entertainment, travel and charitable contributions.
- Craft your list: Determine who will get a gift and how much you want to spend on each. If possible, keep your gift list limited to family and close friends.
- Check it out before you check out: Use store apps and websites to comparison price shop before making your purchases. Remember to make sure your purchases fit within your budget.
- Shop on your terms: Avoid shopping when you are in a rush or under time pressure as it can lead to overspending.
- Avoid extra credit: Don't be tempted to apply for store credit cards to get a one-time discount. Fees associated with these cards can end up costing you more than the money you're saving. Try to limit shopping to one card, preferably the one with the lowest interest rate.
- Many happy returns: Save your receipts. You will need them for possible returns as well as to review charges on your bank and credit card statements. If you detect any unusual or unauthorized transactions immediately report it to your financial institution.
Ranked 8th on Forbes Magazine's list of "Best Banks in America 2013," BankUnited, N.A. is headquartered in Miami Lakes, Florida and has 101 branches in the state.