COLUMBUS - The Golden Buckeye program launched its page on Facebook this week and is celebrating by featuring a "Golden Buckeye Savvy Shopping Tip of the Day" starting on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) and running through December. The tips will offer daily advice about comparison shopping and finding discounts, as well as things consumers can do to keep themselves and their money safe, whether they are shopping at the mall, by phone or online.
"For more than 35 years, the Golden Buckeye program has been building relationships between our elders and businesses across the state that value them as loyal customers," said Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the department. "Since most participating businesses are locally-owned, small businesses with roots in their communities, this really is a win-win program for Ohio. We are looking forward to leveraging the power of social media to help foster those relationships to the benefit of elder consumers and merchants alike."
In addition to holiday shopping tips, subscribers to the Golden Buckeye Program page on Facebook also will receive periodic notifications of new businesses that have joined the program and existing merchants that have reaffirmed their commitment to Golden Buckeye cardholders through a weekly business spotlight. Followers of the page also will receive regular updates for cardholders as well as participating businesses and businesses who are considering participation in the program, and information about Ohio Department of Aging services and resources for seniors and businesses.
More than two million Ohioans are eligible for the Golden Buckeye card, honored at 20,000 businesses statewide. Golden Buckeye cardholders have saved an estimated $2 billion since the program's launch in 1976. All Ohioans age 60 or older, as well as adults age 18-59 who have disabilities as defined by Social Security, are eligible for a free Golden Buckeye card. Visit www.GoldenBuckeye.com to learn more and to find participating businesses in your area.
Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.
About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that our elders are respected as vital members of society who continue to grow, thrive and contribute. We work with state agencies and community partners, including area agencies on aging, to help integrate aging needs into local plans and ensure that aging Ohioans have access to a wide array of high-quality services and supports that are person-centered in policy and practice. Our programs include the PASSPORT Medicaid waiver, caregiver support, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.
Golden Buckeye Savvy Shopping Tips 2011
#1: SET A BUDGET. If it takes you months to pay off your debt for gifts, you are putting yourself under a lot of stress. Work out a budget and stick to it. Be realistic in your gift purchases and it will be much easier to pay off that holiday debt.
#2: MAKE A LIST. List the folks you want to shop for and write down one or two ideas. Make your list on the front of an envelope and it will double as a place to track. Avoid impulse shopping and stick with your list whenever possible. When you do find one of those great deals you can't pass up, be sure to change your list to reflect the new item.
#3: CHECK THE ADS. Compare prices online or in circulars. If you are going to order online, be sure to do it early to allow for shipping time. And ALWAYS ask the Ohio merchants if they provide a Golden Buckeye discount!
#4: MAKE A MAP. After you've made a shopping list and checked ads to see which stores have the best prices, list the stores you will be shopping geographically, along with the items you plan to purchase at each store. This will allow you to shop efficiently and not have to make repeat trips to the same area.
#5: DON'T FORGET SUPPLIES. Make sure you have lots of wrapping paper, ribbon, bows, tags and tape on hand. Try to wrap gifts as you buy them so you don't feel overwhelmed later on.
#6: USE RECYCLABLE TOTES AS GIFT BAGS. Consider purchasing those recyclable totes from stores where you shop. It's easy to stuff them with decorative tissue paper and place a gift in it, and it becomes a gift in itself.
#7: SHOP SAFELY ONLINE. When you shop online, stick with businesses you know and trust. Look for "https" at the beginning of the web address. The "s" stands for "secure" and tells you the site has precautions in place to keep the data you provide - especially your payment information - private.
#8: UNDERSTAND RETURN POLICIES. Whether shopping online or in a store, make sure you understand the seller's return policy. How long will the business accept returns? Will you need to pay return shipping for online items? Will the business accept items that are opened? Is there a restocking fee on returned items?
#9: MAIL EARLY. If you are mailing gifts, get those items mailed early. Check with your local post office or courier on estimated delivery dates. Some of the package delivery businesses will provide a discount to Golden Buckeye cardholders, so don't forget to ask about it.
#10: BUY GIFT CARDS. Gift cards are handy for last-minute gifts or for that "hard to buy for" person on your list. Additionally, many stores will give bonus gift cards they you can use or pass along to people on your list.
#11: GIFT CARDS AREN'T JUST FOR GIVING. Consider purchasing gift cards at grocery stores for the department/specialty stores where you will be doing your gift shopping. When you purchase the cards, many of the stores will credit you with fuel points or shopper's discount rewards. You can even buy gift cards to use at the grocery stores themselves.
#12: LOOK ONLINE FOR DISCOUNT DEALS. Sign up for discount sites like Groupon that sell deeply discounted offers from business partners in limited amounts and duration. Radio stations websites will sometimes offer half-price deals for local businesses. The deals change weekly and could save you tons of money. Be sure to check the fine print for any restrictions or limitations.
#13: SHOP ALONE. While it may be fun to share the experience with a friend or family members, researchers say that people often unconsciously mimic one another. So, if a co-shopper stocks up on items at a kitchen supply store, you may be likely to do so, too. Instead, going to separate stores and meeting up for breaks or meals to compare notes and bargains.
#14: WORK YOUR WAY UP COST-WISE. Buy the less expensive items on your list first. Once you shell out the big bucks for an item, your brain loses perspective on what's a good price. If you pay $250 for an electronic gadget, you may not blink at shelling out $40 instead of $30 for a Lego set.
#15: SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS AND CONTINUE TO CHECK ADS. Even if you have made your purchase of the "perfect gift", continue to check prices in the circulars. If the same item is discounted within a few weeks, some stores will refund the difference if you present your receipt.
# 16: SHOP SAFELY. Always park your car in a well-lighted area and place valuables out-of-sight in the trunk. Don't leave your jacket or purse unattended as you load packages into your car.
#17: WEIGH THE MERITS OF DIFFERENT PAYMENT METHODS. If you use your debit card, you will avoid potential finance charges. With credit cards, you have the right to dispute charges and will be protected if the card is lost or stolen. Cash will make you plan your purchases carefully, but you may run the risk of becoming an attractive target for thieves.
#18: GET ON E-MAIL LISTS. Sign up for e-mails or "like" businesses on Facebook to get notifications of special deals and limited offers. Consider setting up a special e-mail address when you do this so your personal email box doesn't get overloaded.
#19: DON'T BUY FOR THE HARD TO BUY FOR. What do you get that person who has everything? Consider making a donation to a charitable organization in his name. If you want him to have a gift to unwrap, present a framed certificate acknowledging the donation.
#20: SAVE MONEY BY SKIPPING THE SODA. If you plan to dine out during the holidays, an easy way to save money is to ask for water with your meal. Drinks can add significantly to the cost of the meal - as much as $10 for a family of four!
#21: STORE BRANDS DO NOT EQUAL LOWER QUALITY. If you are buying items for holiday meals, consider using store brands. Today's "generic products" are often just as good as name brands at significantly lower prices.
#22: DIVIDE AND CONQUER. Get together with a friend and strategize about gifts and store locations. You may be able to pick up items on her list in one area in exchange for her making purchases from your list on a side of town she will be driving to. Arrange to meet for dinner and exchange the purchases and settle up.
#23: CASH IN THAT CHANGE. Thinking about getting someone a gift card? Got lots of loose change around the house? Seek out an automated coin counting machine usually found near the customer service departments in grocery and department stores. Most machines will waive their usual service fees if you convert your change into a featured gift card rather than cash.
#24: MAKE YOUR PURCHASE THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING. Check where you shop to see if the store gives community rewards to schools and not-for-profit organizations in the community. It typically doesn't cost you anything extra to enroll or to participate, and a percentage of your purchase total is given to the organization you select.
#25: GIVE HISTORY. For that family that has kids, but way too much "stuff," purchase a membership in the Ohio Historical Society. It includes free admission to participating sites throughout the state, as well as savings on admission to some zoos and museums. Depending on the type of membership, it may be tax-deductible. Oh, and the Historical Society honors the Golden Buckeye card!
#26: GET PERSONAL. Older relatives may enjoy a personalized photo album. Your nearest copy center or photo processor can help you copy your pictures and assemble an album. Build it around themes like "How We Spent the Holidays," "Our Holiday Meals," or "The Presents I Remember Most." You can have the pages bound into a book that may eventually become a family heirloom.
#27: DON'T TELEGRAPH YOUR TRAVEL PLANS. Don't post your plans for holiday travel on your Facebook page or Twitter. Robbery is often a crime of convenience. You may trust your friends but do you know who else can see your updates? Can you trust your friends' friends? Don't chance coming home to an empty house.
#28: BEAT THE POSTAL RATE INCREASES. It's almost a given: the temperature drops and the price of postage goes up! Purchase several sheets of Forever Stamps now to keep on hand before the increase goes into effect.
#29: HIRE AN ELF. If things are getting a bit hectic with shopping, wrapping and baking, consider hiring a neighborhood teenager or relative to help out a few hours on the weekend. Put her in charge of gift wrap, or baking while you clean or run errands. You will appreciate the assistance, she will enjoy the extra money, and you will get to know each other a little better.
#30: GIVE THE GIFT OF FOOD. A bag of groceries given to a busy family (or one that may be stretching a meager budget due to unexpected hardships) will be appreciated more than clothes or toys. Buy foods for a theme (e.g., breakfast, Italian or Mexican) and include paper plates, napkins and cups to make clean-up a breeze. And check with your local grocer to see if the store honors the Golden Buckeye card.
#31: SHARE YOUR TIME AND TALENT. The list is dwindling and the kids are restless? Contact your local nursing home and ask if you can come in to go caroling. Even the youngest of kids love to sing their favorite songs in a group, and the residents will love the performance.
#32: CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM ONLINE. Just as you shouldn't post travel plans on social media, you shouldn't share details or pictures of that expensive new gift you gave or received (e.g., TV, computer, jewelry) on social media like Facebook and Twitter. While you may trust your friends, you can't really control who sees what you put online. Don't invite theft.
#33: HOLD OFF ON USING GIFT CARDS. If you received a gift card or two (or three or four) and are itching to shop for bargains, you may be better off waiting. Many stores' inventories were depleted by last-minute holiday shoppers. Wait a couple of weeks for them to replenish their stock and you'll find a better selection and possibly better prices.
#34: KNOW YOUR GIFT CARDS' LIMITATIONS. Before you use your gift cards, make sure you are familiar with the business' policy. Although Ohio has changed regulations around gift cards and expiration dates, there are some exceptions. Find out when your card expires and other limitations by checking out the store's website.
#35: TAKE STOCK AND STOCK UP. It might be difficult to buy presents a year ahead, but you can certainly take advantage of the clearance sales to buy lights and trees, decorations, wrapping, bows and cards now. Don't forget to check out the bed and bath departments for holiday towels and linens. Just remember where you store your purchases to be able to access them next year!
#36: TAKE A HIKE. You've probably been a slug over the past week or so, eating cookies, drinking egg nog, snacking on leftover ham and taking long afternoon naps until it's time to go to bed. Instead of steering a course for the recliner, round up the family and go for a walk in your neighborhood or local park. The fresh air and exercise will make you feel fantastic.
#37: SHARE TRADITIONS. There are many cultures that celebrate the arrival of the New Year in different ways. Invite friends from other areas to your home and then share traditions, customs and food.
#38: RING OUT THE OLD. If you are going out to celebrate on New Year's Eve, be safe. Unlike the ad for Las Vegas, your actions may not stay a secret at a party here. If you think you might over-imbibe, ask the host to have available the contact information for a cab to transport you and others home. Many cab services offer discounts for Golden Buckeye cardholders.
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