The New Year is here and, because of the rough economy, it’s more important than ever to become a savvy shopper to both save money and prevent identity theft in 2011.

Being a knowledgeable consumer is ultimately about using money wisely and learning how to squeeze as much value as possible out of every dollar.

Charities seeking donations may tug at your heartstrings, but don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) evaluates charities based on the use of funds, fundraising, governance, public accountability, solicitation and information materials.

Look for the BBB seal and always check a business or charity out with BBB before you buy or donate. Nationwide, nearly 400,000 businesses bear the BBB seal of accreditation and meet its standards. You can also find the seal on Web sites and at business locations. Check with the BBB to make sure that the charity or company that you are considering does not have a history of dissatisfied customers or unanswered complaints.

Check out a business or charity online at