Spend Wisely Between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, and throughout the holiday shopping season, there are many opportunities for consumers to save big on the gifts they want to give. The Golden Buckeye program suggests a few strategies to help stretch your dollar even further: Ask anywhere you spend money if they honor the Golden Buckeye Card or offer another discount for which you may qualify. The Golden Buckeye Card is most often honored at locally owned small businesses. Set a budget and stick to it. Consider payment methods carefully. Cash is the best way to control your spending but can be easily lost or stolen. Debit cards and checks can help you avoid finance charges but are particularly risky if lost or stolen. Credit cards often offer the best consumer protections against loss and theft but can cost you more in the long run in fees and interest. Compare prices using store sales circulars and websites. Save your receipts and continue to compare prices after you’ve purchased something, as retailers may match competitor prices following the sale. Shop at discount, resale and outlet stores for rock-bottom prices on unique gifts. Buy gift cards for shopping as well as giving. Many merchants offer special holiday offers on gift cards such as bonus coupons/cards, fuel discounts and other incentives. Buy gift cards to earn these perks, then use the cards to buy gifts. Understand return policies before you buy. Look for information about how long returns are accepted, if a receipt is required, whether opened items are accepted, if a restocking fee applies, and if a shipping fee applies to items bought online. Be careful and alert. Park in well-lighted areas and avoid leaving valuables in your vehicle. Never leave your jacket, purse or wallet unattended. Shop Safely The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping increases risk factors that can lead to a potentially life-changing fall. The STEADY U Ohio initiative has been helping older Ohioans prevent falls since 2013 and offers these tips for safe holiday shopping: Don’t “shop ‘til you drop.” Do some light exercise and stretching before you shop. Take frequent breaks and shop at off-peak times to avoid crowds and long waits. Bring someone with you who can wait in line for you while you sit and rest. Avoid walking around items blocking aisles or displays that block your view of other shoppers and obstacles. Report slipping hazards, such as spills, loose rugs or mats, and unsafe sidewalks or stairs to store staff immediately. Ask store staff for help carrying heavy or bulky packages or bags to your vehicle. Avoid carrying large, low-hanging bags that can trip you. If you use your cane or walker, always shop with it or take advantage of the mobility scooters many stores provide if you could be on your feet for longer than you usually find comfortable. Tell store staff if you see anybody behaving in an unsafe manner that could lead to an accident. If you fall, even if you're not hurt, notify store staff and management right away so that they can document the incident and take steps to prevent future accidents. About ODA – The Ohio Department of Aging serves and advocates for the needs of Ohioans age 60 and older, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. Programs include home and community based long-term supports and services, as well as initiatives to promote health and wellness throughout the lifespan. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov . About the Golden Buckeye Program – Since 1976, the Golden Buckeye Program has been creating community connections between consumers and small business partners. The Golden Buckeye Card is available for all Ohio residents age 60 or older, as well as Ohioans age 18-59 with a total and permanent disability. Learn more at www.goldenbuckeye.com or by calling 1-800-422-1976. About STEADY U Ohio – STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov .