Stay Debt-Free This Holiday Season!

ccbillPhoto courtesy of SqueakyMarmot

Although you may be tempted to overindulge in more ways than one this holiday season, it’s important to keep your spending under control so that you don’t end up with credit card bills that you can’t afford in 2013. Spending the whole year watching your budget closely will get you nowhere if you allow the holiday season to tempt you into buying more than you can really afford in December. With all of the credit options offered by stores and credit card companies, many people are lured into buying gifts that are way above their spending limit.

Use our holiday buying guide so that you’ll be able to give gifts to everyone on your list without going broke.

  •  Use your skills wisely, and learn how to make something! While this may not be appropriate for everyone on your list, you may be able to create beautiful gifts for several people, saving you a respectable amount of money.
  •  Stop at one. The holiday season has gotten out of control for millions of Americans, which has resulted in giving multiple gifts to multiple people every single year, which simply isn’t necessary. Most people on your list will be more than happy to receive one gift from you. If you find something that is “perfect for them” after you have already gotten them a gift, fight the urge to buy it. Remind yourself that ending the holidays swimming in debt really isn’t worth getting someone just one more gadget.
  •  Set aside money for holiday spending. Start a Christmas savings account early each year so that when you begin your Christmas shopping you will be able to spend actual money instead of  “credit”, which is really just a loan. By spending money from your Christmas savings account, you avoid the expensive finance costs charged by credit card companies. Remember, if your credit card balances get too high, your credit scores will plummet.
  •  Pay off any credit card balances immediately. If you do end up putting some of your Christmas purchases onto a credit card, keep it to the bare minimum. Pay off your credit card balance as soon as you have the cash available.  After the holidays, emergencies can arise that prevent people from paying off their balances, which then turn into mountainous piles of debt that they can’t handle. Avoid this by paying the balance sooner rather than later.
  •  Set a spending budget. Before you make even one holiday purchase, write out a list of people that you must shop for and how much money you can afford to spend. Stay within your budget by looking for sales, using coupons and promo codes, making a few gifts, and shopping in-store instead of online to avoid pricey shipping costs.
  •  Shop online if it helps keep you in line. Some people tend to spend more money if they shop in-store because of a phenomenon caused by actually seeing and touching products. If shopping virtually helps you stick to your budget, look for online stores that offer free or affordable shipping.

Unfortunately, some people find themselves in dire financial straits after the holidays even with the best laid plans. If this has happened to you, seek help for debt relief before it gets out of control and you find yourself in over your head.  A qualified bankruptcy attorney who specializes in credit repair can help you by introducing you to all of your resources to get your debt numbers lowered as fast as possible, so that you can avoid getting phone calls from collections agencies. He or she can also teach you how to plan better for next year so this doesn’t happen again.

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