The best way to have happy holidays is to enjoy them without the stress of adding to your debt. Retailers and credit card companies pull out all the stops in an effort to make people think buying gifts is what gives holidays their meaning. But you can celebrate the holidays with plenty of debt-free gift-giving if you keep your wits about you.
Santa knows what he’s doing
To avoid holiday debt, be like Santa. Make a list, check it twice … and shop around for the best price on the Internet. This strategy will help you avoid expensive impulse buying and cut down on shopping trips that result in tempting unplanned purchases. Realize that at Christmastime children get the most out of presents, and for everyone else they are often a waste of money. And family name drawing is always a great idea. It cuts down on gift-giving and is a great way to cap the dollar amount everyone feels obligated to budget.
Resist credit card offers
When you’re holiday shopping, every store in the mall is going to ask you to fill out a credit card application. It could be tempting to defer spending cash now on holiday gifts, but in the long run it just makes them more expensive. Also, be aware that every time you apply for a new credit card it can negatively effect your credit score, which results in higher interest rates, and even more hard earned money down the drain. Use cash, and if you can’t afford something, don’t buy it.
Use plastic wisely on the web
Internet shopping requires credit cards, so know your credit score before you make your shopping list. Knowing your credit score and protecting it will help you get better deals on big-ticket items. When you do your holiday shopping with credit cards, don’t max them out. Plus, don’t miss any payments on your credit cards or any other debts in the coming months.