Avoid Debt this Holiday Season
The season of giving can quickly become the season of debt if you do not spend carefully and stick to a budget. You want to shower your loved ones, and sometimes yourself, with gifts but you don’t want to be paying off that holiday debt until the next year. A new study from NerdWallet found consumers plan to spend an average of $825 on gifts this year, up from an average of $776 last year.
Additionally, 41 million Americans admitted they are still paying off holiday debt from last year! If you’re looking to avoid debt this holiday season use these six tips:
Book Travel Early
November and December are some of the busiest months for travel. If you plan to travel during the holiday season, book your travel early. Waiting until the last-minute means ticket prices will go up and you may pay up to twice as much for your ticket. Be sure to use comparison tools to check different airlines.
Stick to Your Budget
Before you start shopping set a budget and stick with it. It’s easy to get swept up in deals and sales and overspend. Don’t budget exclusively for gifts either, remember the other expenses. Factor in your travel costs if you’re going somewhere, and if you’re hosting a holiday count all of the food and drinks you’ll be serving. Get a realistic idea of how much you’re going to need to spend and budget accordingly.
With all of the holiday shopping specials you may be tempted to splurge on yourself. It’s a better idea to hold off on any purchases for yourself for your home until after the holidays pass. There are always going to be sales, and it’s better to wait to spend on yourself until you’re done buying for everybody else.
Strategic Gift Card Use
Many retailers offer gift card specials during the holiday season to incentivize consumers to buy to give. You can use these specials to your advantage too! For example, if a store is offering $100 gift cards for $80, you can buy the gift card and then use it toward your gifting. An extra savings here and there goes a long way!
Review Credit Card Rewards
The holiday season is also a great opportunity to cash in on credit card rewards. What kind of cash-back or travel deals does your credit card offer? You may be able to redeem credit card rewards for holiday-related expenses like gifts, groceries, and airfare.
Avoid Store Credit Cards
Many department stores are other retailers offer store credit cards when you check out, with incentives like “save 15% on today’s purchase.” Any time you apply for a credit card or line of credit, your credit score will take a hit from the credit inquiry. A store credit card may come with a no interest introductory period, but then the interest could skyrocket if you do not pay off the debt in a specified amount of time. It’s best to not open a credit card on impulse and do your research independently.
It’s easy to lose sight about what the holiday season is really about, our time together with family and friends. Keep the spirit of the season in mind to avoid overspending.