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How to Manage Holiday Debt
[December 2nd, 2013]
The biggest shopping season of the year is right around the corner. People across the land are gearing up to buy not just gifts for loved ones, but also food for holiday feasts, decorations for homes and yards, and tickets for travel during winter break.
All this hustle and bustle is good news for the economy, but it can be bad news for your wallet if you are not ready for it. Here are some tips for managing holiday debt—and avoiding getting into it in the first place.
- Sit down and make a budget. Too many people simply spend what they think they can afford, without really knowing for sure. It can be difficult to sit down and really look at the cold, hard numbers, but it’s essential to do this if you don’t want to end up with a financial mess in January. Look at the last couple months of bank and credit card statements, evaluate how much you have in savings, how much you owe, and how much you think you will earn during the next couple of months. Calculate your anticipated expenses and figure out how much is left over. Now you know how much you can afford to spend.
- Make a list of people to buy for. Naughty or nice, who is getting a gift from you this year? Try to pare it down as much as possible. Remember that many people are swimming in too much stuff already, with houses bursting at the seams. Most kids do not need another plastic doodad—they have plenty of toys. And avoid the temptation to buy something just because you feel you must put something under the tree. That Popsicle maker you buy your sister will very likely end up either collecting dust in the attic, clogging up her cupboards, or for sale at her next garage sale.
- Consider making donations or handmade gifts this year. This isn’t necessarily cheaper, depending on how much you choose to donate or what you make. For example, if you’re a knitter you know that wool is expensive, knitting takes time, and time is money. But you can find inexpensive crafts to make, such as photo albums or jars of homemade apple butter. And donating to a cause close to everyone’s heart will warm the holidays the way no fancy foot massaging machine can.
- Think twice before pulling out the plastic. Credit cards are great ways to earn rewards and manage spending—but make sure you aren’t using them to spend beyond your means. It’s all too easy to overspend on credit during the holidays, when temptations abound. But if you end up paying high interest on a balance you can’t pay in full, any rewards you earned while shopping will be cancelled out. So use your credit cards, but use them wisely.
With some planning ahead and creativity, you can start the New Year debt-free.
[April 13, 2017]
If you’re planning a trip in the near future, you might want to look for a flight on Southwest Airlines and try to book a reservation at a Marriott Courtyard hotel.
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[March 30, 2017]
If you’d like to donate more money to good causes, but you never seem to get around to setting up the donations, a new app will make it easier to be generous.
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[March 15, 2017]
Commuters who spend a lot of time in the car will be happy to hear that there’s a new way for them to fuel up fast and pay quickly and securely, without even getting out of the car.
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