The Secret to Smart Shopping

Retail season is on. Here's how to avoid pricey mistakes

The holiday shopping season this year is shaping up to be a little lighter on good cheer. The National Retail Federation estimates the average American will spend $536.85 on gifts this year, down 2.5% from last year and the first decline since 2008. To stoke sales, retailers will offer bigger discounts earlier. But look out: they also will be hawking potentially costly credit options to shoppers at checkout. It's worth deciding how you want to pay before walking into the store. Here are three budget busters you're likely to hear from the cashier:

• Will that be cash or credit?

Cash...

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