Tis the season for maxed out credit cards, over-due bills, and debt increase, right? Not necessarily. If planned correctly, you can have a great holiday experience and still stay out of debt going into the new year. Remember, New Year’s resolutions will be just around the corner. There is nothing wrong with making a promise to yourself to be debt free or have little debt in 2017.
There are tips everywhere online about how to save money and shop smart. Here are a couple that we liked and wanted to share from Forbes.com and BankRate.com:
- Decide how much you can spend. (bankrate.com) – Give yourself a budget before making a list of the people you want to purchase for. Include things like shipping, holiday favors and decorations into the budget as well. You may have to cut people from your list if you go over budget. Remember, family and friends are important, but not enough to put yourself in a bad position of debt.
- Cut back preemptively. (forbes.com) – Decrease spending in other areas to increase your holiday budget. Don’t eat out as much; use that pantry and refrigerator for your lunches. If you do go out, save a few dollars and drink water with your meal. Cut back on junk food and put that money towards your holiday spending. Every dollar counts when choosing to spend it on the ones you love.
- Pay cash whenever possible, especially if credit card spending has been a previous challenge. Think of credit cards as short-term loans. (bankrate.com) – Paying everything off immediately is the most ideal way to end the holiday season, but it’s not always the case. Use the credit card with the lowest interest rate and make sure to keep track of spending to stay in budget.
- Get creative and create! (forbes.com) – It’s nice to see a handwritten note expressing appreciation for another person, and maybe attach it to a scented candle or some home-baked cookies. In this day and age it’s not too often that someone would take the time to write a letter. It’s a small gesture that could leave a big impression on family and friends.
- Curb kids’ expectations and just say “no” to toy lust. (forbes.com & bankrate.com) – When it comes to kids, parents often want to give them the world. While it is a great thought, it’s not reality. Ask the children to create a list of 5 or so things they would like, and pick a few from that list. If Santa is understood to be mom, dad, or guardian, give a set dollar amount and go on a holiday shopping spree (wrapping optional). Most importantly, help them understand that family and giving is the reason for the season. You can do that by getting the little tikes involved and donating gently used toys or clothes to your local shelter or drive.
As mentioned before, these tips and many more can be found online. This holiday give yourself the gift of smart shopping and peace of mind. You can be happy knowing you are starting a new year with little or no holiday debt and with plenty of satisfied family and friends.
Arbor Professional Solutions would like to wish each and every one of you a happy and financially healthy Holiday Season!