Now, with the holidays upon us, ‘tis the time to be merry. Unfortunately, for many of us, it’s also time to pull out our credit cards and start spending. We’re also seeing a new phenomenon that one person called “holiday creep” with merchants offering Black Friday deals earlier and earlier. I saw one store that isn’t even waiting until midnight for its Black Friday sale. It’s starting at 8 PM on Thanksgiving day. Given this trend, we may see Black Friday actually starting on a Wednesday or even a Tuesday.
Holiday sales are expected to increase 4.1% this year to more than $580 billion – according to the National Retail Federation. The Federation also estimates that shoppers will spend an average of about $750 in November and December and, of course, many will spend even more. Most will have to take months to pay off the stuff they bought. But here are some ways you could avoid falling too far into debt.
Make a plan
Think of Christmas shopping as if you were grocery shopping. Make a list of the items you want to buy and how much you will spend on each item and each person. Then don’t vary from it. You might want to begin your shopping on the Internet if for no other reason then to look for deals and do some comparison price shopping. Avoid making impulse purchases. And don’t wait until the day before Christmas to do your shopping.
Limit your use of credit cards
If you can’t pay cash for everything, put your charges on the one card that has the lowest interest rate. Take all those other cards our of your wallet or purse. And do not apply for one of those store cards just to get a one-time discount as they can have interest rates as high as 20%. Your ideal goal should be to not charge anything unless you believe you can pay your next statement in full. Barring that, at least set a date by which you will completely pay off any balance you have to carry forward.
Resist the perks
Many of the credit card providers are now offering 0% interest balance transfers, extra bonuses if you meet certain levels of spending and/or where you get additional cash back in certain categories. Just remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch and deals are not good deals unless you can afford them.
Use layaway as possible
Many retailers have either waived or lowered their fees for shoppers to participate in layaway programs. If you’re careful, you may be able to snag items at very good prices while not having to pay any interest.
If you’re one of those people who have a problem sticking to a budget, you could give gift cards and then make personal items to give along with them. You can also be creative and give things you would experience instead of material gifts –a special meal you cook at the person’s home or a hike you share. If you don’t think one of your gift recipients doesn’t care about material stuff, you could volunteer to work together at a homeless shelter, nursing home or soup kitchen as a gift. And while this might seem a little child like, you can also make and give certificates for things you will do for that person free such as babysitting their children, or doing your grocery shopping for a week.
If you do sink into debt
If you find that you can’t get through the holiday season without sinking deep into debt, we can help. Our debt consolidation providers are so sure they can help you become debt free in a reasonable amount of time that they offer a simple 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’d like to know more about how they could help and how our guarantee works, just call our toll-free number or fill in the form you’ll find on this page