Everyone loves the holidays, that magical time of year when all the troubles of mundane daily life seem to fade far away. The snow is falling gently on the hillside. The lights are shining peacefully from the boughs of countless Christmas trees. Santa can be seen smiling on every street corner, and the spirit of generosity surrounds no matter where you go.
The exchanging of gifts may not be the true reason for the season, but it is a significant highlight of almost every holiday get-together. It can be tempting to show out for your workplace’s secret Santa circle and to shower all your family and friends with the very best gifts you can afford. After all, Christmas only comes once a year! However, if you’re in the process of debt repair, navigating the art of gift giving without racking up even more debt can be a challenge.
Nearly two-thirds of American parents spend more than they can afford on holiday gifts. This means big business in the new year for credit repair services, but major tension for families after the snow melts and the tree gets taken down. Check out these simple ways to avoid debt during the holidays to keep your loved ones’ spirits bright and your financial future even brighter!
From Black Friday straight through to Christmas Eve, your local shopping center likely looks more akin to a war zone than a relaxing retail rendezvous. Why not treat it like one and create a shopping battle plan to keep your spending in check? After all, the spirit of Christmas may come only annually, but anyone who works in credit repair services can tell you: the dedication required for true debt repair must remain year-round.
Make a list of exactly who you plan to shop for and check it twice.
Narrow your list down as much as possible, and then create a precise budget for whoever is left. You may choose to spend more on the people who matter most- like your children or parents- or you may choose to spend equally on everyone. Whichever tactic you take, a foolproof plan can keep you from needing to seek credit repair services once the holiday season comes to a close.
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Alternatively, avoid the rush altogether and purchase your holiday gifts far in advance.
Marketers may be starting to target Christmas customers as early as October, but you can beat the rush by beginning your shopping even before that. By spacing out your purchases over the course of the entire year, rather than trying to cram them all into just a couple of months, you can keep yourself from racking up big credit card bills. If your finances are fine heading into the holidays, this can keep ‘debt repair’ off of your list of New Year’s resolutions. Use just a bit of spare cash every paycheck to pick up presents, rather than buying several at a time. This will keep you from needing to use your credit card to cover all of the costs at once. As an added bonus: you’ll save energy and time that can be better spent making memories with loved ones by avoiding large crowds of last-minute shoppers.
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Hot cocoa and carols become more common in the holiday season, but practicality sometimes seems in short supply. As many as 43% of shoppers feel pressured to overspend in the holiday season, but you don’t need to clean out your wallet to make it clear that you care! Small and meaningful gifts will hold their sentimental value in the years to come much more than spending hundreds on trendy trivialities that will be cast aside faster than the ball will drop on New Year’s Eve. The true gift involved in this money-saving method, though, is that to choose the right items you will have to take up a genuine interest in your loved ones, leading to a much stronger bond overall. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!
Another practical money saving idea to keep your debt repair progress on track is to skip spending all day making the family feast and suggest your loved ones partake in a potluck dinner instead! You may be surprised how enthusiastic they are about the idea. After all, it can be fun and exciting for everyone to show off their cooking skills, especially if dining with each other isn’t something you do together often. You’ll save more than just money, too. You’ll also save time and energy that can be better spent just enjoying the day.
If you were to sit down with your family and have an open, honest discussion, you might be surprised to find that you aren’t the only one taking advantage of credit repair services or working diligently on your debt repair. It’s quite likely that at least one other member of your family is also seeking to avoid debt during the holidays this year! One way to help everyone stay on track with their financial goals is to set up a secret Santa gift exchange with low preset spending limits. The limit can be as low as five dollars or as much as fifty, just as long as it suits the group’s budget. With this strategy, everyone still can enjoy the excitement of unwrapping their own special gift on Christmas, but no one needs to worry about purchasing several to avoid seeming like a cheapskate.
Don’t Go Credit Crazy
Even if you’re working with credit repair services this season on debt repair and have tried all of the ways to avoid debt during the holidays that you can think of, you may still end up putting some of your purchases on credit. Doing so isn’t the end of the world, but you really should make a concerted effort not to go credit crazy.
If you absolutely must purchase some presents with a credit card, choose to use the one that has the lowest interest rate. One that offers high reward points or cash back is even better. Don’t be swindled into opening new store credit cards while you’re out shopping, though. It is true that many popular chain stores offer deep discounts on their products if you open an account, but they tend to have higher fees and interest rates to offset the loss of profits.
Unfortunately, overspending with credit cards during the holidays can lead to higher than usual credit card bills in January and February.
If you are struggling to pay off credit card balances, the following tips may help you regain control of your debt.
Always Pay More Than the Minimum
Always pay as much as possible above the minimum amount due. This can have a dramatic impact on the total amount of interest you pay, and it will become much easier to pay off your balance in a timely manner.
Enlist the Help of Credit Repair Services
Credit repair services can be a lifesaver when you’re feeling crushed under the weight of unavoidable debt. However, the holidays needn’t be the reason you end up seeking them out. Being smart about your spending isn’t hard if you strategize, so sit back with your Christmas classics and cocoa and simplify the way you celebrate this season!
Focus on the Higher Interest Rates First
Determine which card charges you the highest interest rate. Pay off the largest amount you can afford each month (while still paying on any other credit card debts) to that high-interest card until there is no balance remaining. This will let you reduce the amount of interest that you end up paying. This is one of the most important aspects of getting debt under control.
Reduce Unnecessary Spending
Remove anything from your current lifestyle that is not absolutely essential until your bills are paid off. For example, get rid of cable and stop going out to eat to have more money available each month to apply toward your debt. As an added bonus, this also gives you the opportunity to eat healthier and develop alternative hobbies to watching TV.
Use Cash as Your Choice of Payment
People are more likely to spend a higher amount of money when they shop with a credit or debit card instead of cash. To reduce temptation, limit yourself to using cash while you are in the process of paying off your debt. It will help you learn to live within your means and to keep your financial situation from getting worse due to credit card spending.
Contact Your Credit Card Providers
Contact each credit card company and ask if they are willing to reduce your interest rate so that you can pay everything off more quickly. If you are upfront with each company and have a good payment history with them, the odds are high that they will work with you.
To help prevent future debt, create a budget and stick to it. By using each of the tips above, and creating and following a plan of action, you are on a path to reduce your credit card debt and dependency.
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