As the holidays get closer it can be tempting to buy the shiniest and most expensive gifts to make the people around you happy. After all, it’s the season of giving, of family, and spending time with those you love.
But no one ever said ‘tis the season to jack up your credit cards. So take a few minutes to plan your holiday gift attack so you won’t hate the mailbox come January.
Don’t deck the halls with credit card debt.
-Start a holiday fund. Have a few dollars from your paycheck deposited in a savings account set aside just for Christmas. A cash only Christmas avoids credit card interest.
-Make a written list. Trying to keep the information in your head while also dealing with the rest of the holiday madness is a recipe for failure.
-Set a spending limit and be firm about it. Know exactly what you can afford to prevent surprises when you finally add it all up. And here’s a little piece of info that may influence your decision: credit cards charge interest. Sometimes lots of interest. Multiply whatever your limit is by your interest rate. If you don’t pay off your credit cards each month this is the extra amount that you can tack on. Yikes!
-Make a firm list of everyone you’re buying for and try not to deviate from it. Add potential gift items to each name and surf the web to estimate prices. Since you know your spending limit you can modify the gifts before you even set out.
-Get gift receipts. If anything you buy turns out to be defective, a duplicate, or just the wrong size, you can aid in returns.
-Keep a running total as you shop to make sure you’re sticking to your budget. Taxes can influence your total so you may need to modify a bit.
-And support your local businesses (we are one, after all) and buy a few items from area stores. Money you spend locally stays local. Plus you’ll likely find a unique gift selection for those really special people in your life.
Saving your money, setting a spending limit, carefully selecting gifts, and buying only what you can afford can make the holidays a much more relaxing time. A stressful time is putting all your Christmas debt on your credit cards and paying them off over time. It may seem easy and painless to just swipe that credit card and move on, but this is how consumers get into trouble. This debt will stick around long after the gifts you buy have broken, run out, lost their appeal or no longer fit… and who needs that?