Once a year, millions of Americans "practice" for a currency crisis...
They wake-up at 4 a.m... stand in line for hours... shuffle past security goons at the door... and hope that no one tries to "rush in" at the last minute...
But instead of trying to stock up on dollars, Americans are waiting for the opportunity to save a few bucks on a big-screen TV on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
For years, you could save hundreds of dollars by standing in line. The tradeoff of time-to-value was worth it.
Thankfully, there's no point anymore. Now, there's only one place worth going on Black Friday...
A few years ago, I started doing all my Black Friday shopping on the Internet, mostly on Amazon (the world's largest retailer). The deals at your local brick-and-mortar store are simply not good enough to justify losing sleep and spending hours waiting in line.
More stores now offer online-only deals starting on Black Friday. And what's even better is the Monday after Thanksgiving – Cyber Monday. That's the day Internet retailers designate for their biggest deals.
Of course, the savings aren't just for two days... Many retailers have a week or more of Black Friday sales. Amazon is in the middle of its "Black Friday Countdown." And Walmart is advertising pre-Black Friday deals.
And they're not the only ones starting early. Several websites – like www.theblackfriday.com and www.blackfriday.com – track the best deals.
But cyber-deal enthusiasts beware: You need to stay safe when you shop online...
Seven Simple Ways to Protect Yourself When Shopping Online
1. Only use trusted sites: Whenever you enter your credit-card number, always look for the letter "s" at the end of the URL's "http." It should say "https://" before the rest of the site's address. In most browsers, an icon of a closed padlock will appear as well, either next to the URL or at the bottom of the screen.
The lock means it's an encrypted website. Without encryption, hackers can potentially access your information.
2. Check the spelling: Make sure you're at the right URL. Many scam-based websites will look almost like the real thing. Sites with ".co" after them are often fake sites and may also have hackers lurking.
And if you aren't familiar with a retailer's website, check for a designation from the Better Business Bureau, and be sure to read some reviews from past customers before filling in your personal information.
Finding the Right Wine for Your Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is stressful... and for many folks, so is picking out wine to pair with your meal.
One of the greatest ways to make a festive occasion even more festive is to start with a Brut Rosé. This is a perfect sparkler to share before you sit down to eat...
And once you're at the table, you have a few choices to make. I've written before about how to pick the best wines for your meal. The best note is to pair spice with sweet. Sweeter wines, especially some types of Rieslings, tend to pair better with spicier foods.
I grew up drinking white wines from Germany, so I'm partial to dry whites on Turkey Day. They also remind me of my dad, who regularly allowed me to sip wine during Thanksgiving with family. If you're game, look for the grape varietal Riesling. You can find domestic, German, and Austrian Rieslings at local wine shops. Another good German wine to try is Gewürztraminer, which is sweet, but often not as sweet as Rieslings.
Sweeter wines help with spicy foods by coating your tongue which is likely burning from the spice. Keep in mind, lower alcohol wines, like Rieslings and Moscatos, are also gentler on your palate as you enjoy spicy foods. So, if you have a lot of heavily seasoned foods on your table, either of these would be a good pairing.
Also, for a heavy meal like Thanksgiving, a lighter, lower alcohol wine will do well.
And for dessert? You can stick with the Brut Rosé. But if you have a sweet tooth, try an extra Brut Rosé champagne... it goes perfect with any dessert.
And my best piece of advice: Visit your local wine shop. The folks in the store love to help. Just be prepared for their questions. For example, do you like a drier wine? Do you like wine with a fuller body? You can also see what kinds of wines suit the flavors you like right here.
3. Shield yourself: Lots of Internet shopping means the potential for pop-ups, malware, viruses, and other nasty bugs. Invest in a good malware-removal program and a good antivirus program. I use Norton programs for both. You can check out a free trial right here.
Popular technology blog Tech Radar tested out the most popular free services. You can read its write-up here.
4. Don't use public "free" Wi-Fi: If you connect your computer or smartphone wirelessly, only use secure, password-protected Wi-Fi. If you have to use public Wi-Fi, avoid signing into your credit-card or bank accounts, or entering your credit-card information. These unsecured networks are far easier for hackers to crack.
Always conduct purchases on secured networks. For an easy guide on how to secure your home network system, read PC Magazine's tutorial.
5. Guard your password: Some websites now offer something called "two-factor authentication." Two-factor authentication requires your password plus another piece of information – like a code sent to your e-mail or mobile device associated with your account – to log in to a website. I love using this feature.
Many companies – including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the password-manager service LastPass – give you the option of using two-factor authentication, as do many banks, brokerages, and credit card companies. And we just found out that Amazon has recently started using this as well. Perfect timing for Cyber Monday.
PC Magazine also has a guide on how to set up two-factor authentication on some websites. You can read it here.
6. Use resell sites cautiously: Sites where you can buy from third parties... like Amazon's marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay... can snag you great deals. But anything with an "activation code" requires extra care when purchasing... I'd avoid them.
For example, gift cards can be a gamble. You don't really know if the full value is really still on there.
7. Always check for a receipt: Print out the confirmation page on your computer or save the confirmation e-mail.
And make sure to check your credit card statement to ensure the charges are correct. Check that day and again a week later to make sure extra charges didn't slip in after your initial purchase.
Please use these seven tips this week, on Black Friday, and on Cyber Monday to do what I do: Stay home. Do your shopping from the couch, without the stress of fighting your way through hordes of people in a store.
Or better yet, go see a movie, or spend more time with your family over a cup of coffee or tea.
What We're Reading...
- Something different: Why a gin maker invented its own history.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
November 27, 2019
P.S. Our offices are closed for the Thanksgiving two-day holiday this Thursday and Friday. Expect your next Health & Wealth Bulletin issue on Monday, December 2. From all of us at Health & Wealth Bulletin, we wish you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving!