What are your top 5 fall fashion finds? Tell us about it, and you get an extra entry into my $250 American Express giveaway! That should go a long way towards paying for those fall finds, so keep reading to find out how....
Now that the weather is getting colder, it's time to get out the fall clothes. I've discovered that some of my stuff is too worn, or too outdated, or just doesn't fit, so I face the "task" of updating my fall wardrobe. Here are five fall fashion items that I absolutely must get for myself before the last leaf falls!
Dr. Martens 1B60 boot (MSRP $149.95)
I already own a pair of warm boots, but I don't really like them -- and you already know the sad story of how I ended up with boots that don't fit. Everyone needs a pair of comfy, sturdy and stylish boots for the fall, so boots are my first order of business. I spotted these tall lace-up boots on a parent at our school, and I stalked her for a week, trying to read the label on the back, before asking her what they were. These 1B60 boots by Dr. Martens have all the legendary Dr. Martens comfort, but due to the extra-tall boot shaft, don't look as clunky as your typical Dr. Martens boot. Love that biker-chick vibe!
Lucky Charlie skinny cords (MSRP $69.50)
I need some skinny jeans to tuck my new boots into, and these cords by Lucky fit the bill. Or rather, they fit me, along with everyone else. How Lucky manages to make jeans and pants that fit and flatter almost anyone, I will never know. These cords are so soft, they feel like I've worn them forever, and the deep eggplant color is just right for fall.
Lucky Perforated Stud Belt (MSRP $59.50)
To finish off my biker-chick look, I chose this black belt (again, from Lucky Jeans) because I love how it's tough yet feminine. The leather is so soft, and the tiny metal studs really give it an attitude. It looks equally great accenting your waist over a tunic top, or threaded through your favorite pair of jeans.
INC International Concepts Breast Cancer Awareness tee (MSRP $49.95)
When it comes to fall fashion, supporting a great cause is always in style. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I've resolved to wear something pink every day in October -- but this breast cancer awareness hooded tee by INC is so cute, I'd wear it any day of the year.
Epiphanie Stella bag (MSRP $164.99)
Epiphanie camera bags, with their just-right mix of stylish and practical, are all the rage for photographers and bloggers. I've wanted one for ages, but couldn't make up my mind which style to get -- until the Stella came along. The funky boho tassels, the metal accents and the soft leatherlike material are just right for the fall. Who cares if it's actually a camera bag -- I've found my perfect purse.
Of course, none of these finds would be fabulous if I ended up regretting my purchase and wasn't able to return it, or if I found myself with a bill for a $10,000 hotel stay in Vegas because I used my debit card over an unsecure connection. To help educate shoppers about making smart online shopping choices, I'm joining American Express in an Online Savvy Shopper series of posts. Last week, I shared one of my online shopping mistakes and how I could have avoided it. Today, along with all those fabulous finds, I'm also sharing some tips to make all your online shopping experiences safe and satisfying:
1) Spend within your means
Set yourself a budget and stick with it, so you buy only the items you need, or those you really, really want. Having a budget will help you avoid overbidding for auctions and save you the hassle of returning items you bought in the heat of the moment.
2) Compare prices
This is one of the best things about the internet: it only takes a minute to do a search and make sure you're paying a fair price.
3) Know how much you're going to pay
When you're comparing prices, look at the total cost. Don't forget to factor in sales tax and shipping costs -- sometimes a "sale" item might end up costing more than an regularly priced item with free shipping.
4) Know the return policy
Does the site accept merchandise returns? What are the terms? American Express card even lets cardmembers return items even though the merchant's return policy has expired (up to $300, up to 90 days).
5) Buy from a reputable site or dealer
When you buy auction items, check the seller's rating. Don't buy from any retailer who asks you to send your credit card information by mail -- or worse, your social security number. When in doubt, check the Better Business Bureau, and trust your gut: do you really want to buy from a site with the name cheapestlowwprizes.com?
6) Pay with a credit card
Hackers steal credit and debit card information all the time -- but debit cards don't offer purchase protection. Most credit cards let you dispute fraudulent charges, let you freeze your card when it has been lost or stolen, and notify you when they notice suspicious activity on your credit card (i.e. large international purchases).
7) Use a strong password
Creating an online account with an ecommerce site can be a real timesaver: you only have to enter your information once, you have a record of all your purchases. But if you're going to leave all that information, especially credit card information, you need to protect it with a secure password. And if you use mobile apps to shop on your mobile phone, make sure your phone is password protected as well.
8) Use a secure connection
It's amazing what hackers can do these days, so make sure the internet connection you use is as secure as possible. Never use a public computer (like a library computer) to make online purchases, and avoid using public wifi when making purchases on your laptop. Make sure your wi-fi connection at home is password protected. Most importantly, make sure the site you purchase from is using a secure http connection -- look for the "https" and the lock symbol on the address bar of your browser.
9) Check your statements
These days, it's way too easy to set your credit card account to "autopay", avoid all those late-payment fees and get one more task off your hands. But you should still check your bank and credit card statement at least once a month, so you don't get any nasty surprises.
Get extra entries into last week's $250 American Express giveaway!
American Express is giving one lucky Bonggamom Finds reader $250 worth of gift cards and/or merchandise. Enter by October 24 for a chance to win!
Today I'm offering a way to get up to 2 extra entries into the giveaway!
1) Leave a comment on this post, below, and share your top 5 fall fashion finds (1 entry).
2) Leave a comment on this post, below, and share a tip for savvy online shopping (1 entry).
You don't have to leave any extra comments on the giveaway post -- I will count all the valid comments on this post when I draw the winner -- but please note, you must complete the required entry on the giveaway post in order to be eligible to leave a comment on this post.
Disclosure: This post is part of a compensated series with American Express. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.