Stay Out of Debt this Holiday Season

Written By:    Melinda Weinstein Managing Editor

Every year, before the holiday season, we post this same article on staying out of debt while holiday shopping.  This article is a reminder that it is possible to create a nice holiday without increasing your credit card debt!  Here are some helpful tips to avoid debt this season:

  1. Create a holiday budget. Write down all of your expenses from the last holiday, including presents, holiday clothes, baking supplies, and entertainment costs.  Determine if you can cut back in any areas.
  2. Start shopping early. Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase holiday presents.  Shop when stores are having sales.  The major department stores have frequent sales and offer coupons for extra savings.  Take advantage of these offers.
  3. Make presents. Homemade gifts can be very special and sentimental.  Many times homemade gifts can be less expensive as well.
  4. Avoid using credit to pay for your holiday expenditures. It is harder to keep track of your spending when you are using your credit cards.  If you absolutely have to use a credit card, use one with a low interest rate and pay off the entire balance once you receive the bill.
  5. Be cautious of companies offering deferred payment plans. Read the fine print on companies offering a “deferred payment” until next year.  Many companies may defer payments, however they will charge interest to your account during the months you are not making payments.
  6. Keep a copy of all your receipts. Not only will this help you if you need to make returns, it will also prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft.  Often, your entire credit card number will appear on your receipt and thieves will use this information.

These tips will help you avoid overspending and will protect your finances.  Enjoy your holidays this year, without the stress of excessive spending!