This Valentine’s Day don’t break the bank

For this Valentine’s Day be savvy when buying for a loved one. Your Better Business Bureau can help you stick to your Valentine’s Day budget.

According to Statistic Brain, more than $13 billion is spent on Valentine’s Day shopping. About 180 million cards are exchanged (not including the hundreds of millions of cards exchanged by children), 196 million roses are produced and more than $116 spent per person to celebrate Valentine’s Day annually.

When shopping for your valentine, your BBB recommends these tips:

• Set a budget. Make a shopping list and stick to it.

• Buy basic items (candy and Valentine’s cards) in bulk to save money.

• Ask about refund and exchange policies before making purchases. Find out if the retailer offers refunds, store credits or if all sales are final. Always keep your receipts and check the store’s policy on sale and clearance items.

• Make sure you keep the item’s original packaging. Many retailers won’t accept returns on certain items, unless they’re in their original packaging.

• Inquire about restocking fees. Some retailers charge a restocking fee, as much as 20 percent of the original purchase price.

• Beware when shopping online. Check out the physical locations and phone numbers of online merchants. If items need to be returned, check to see if they can be returned to the store or need to be shipped back.

• Look for secure websites when shopping online. Look for a website with the padlock on the page and “https” in the URL web address box. Also, look for trustmarks on websites like your BBB’s seal.

• Pay by credit card. If something goes wrong, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company.

• Monitor websites and check local ads for deals. Also, consider signing up for alerts from websites to keep you in the loop for deals and coupons.

Remember, you don’t have to break the bank to show your love. Items such as flowers, jewelry and candy are great, but spending time, making a personalized gift or doing a special chore for a loved ones can do a lot to boost your relationships.

You can always contact your BBB for a list of BBB Accredited Businesses and Business Reviews on ones you’re considering. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

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John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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