The most wonderful time of the year is quickly approaching, and it’s time to start making some plans for the holidays. While it can be easy to pull out your credit card for all of your holiday expenses, take a moment to step back and consider some ways that you can save money and stay on top of your purchases to use that credit card responsibly.
Set a Gift Budget
Sit down with a pad of paper and a pen and write out who you need to buy gifts for, and determine how much to budget out for each person. Take this time to pull out your phone and do a little research on gift ideas for these individuals that fit in the budget you’ve set. If you’re currently set with the funds, go ahead and order some gifts now so that your credit card bill won’t be so hefty in December and January.
Use Credit Card Rewards
Does your credit card allow you to use points? This is the PERFECT time of year to consider trading those points to help you stay within your budget.
From travel expenses to gift cards or even for eating out, credit card rewards are there for you to use. Don’t forget about them while you’re deciding what to do. Besides, you may consider that the more you use your credit card over the holidays will help you gain back those reward points.
Think Twice About Sales
As you peruse the aisles of your favorite stores and scroll through your feed, you will see plenty of advertisements for sales and exclusive deals. Before tossing it in your cart, take a moment to consider a few things: Would you be buying this if it weren’t on sale? Is this really something I/the person I’m buying this for needs or wants? Am I willing to give up purchasing another item in order to buy this? It can be easy to get distracted by the impressive price tags, so stop yourself and really think before moving forward with the purchase.
Don’t Wait to Pay Your Bills
It might be tempting to wait until you get your credit card bill to pay it like you normally do. However, you might get sticker shock by how much you spent.
Remember, you’re probably eating out more often, or you have a party that you have to bring a gift to at the last minute. These might seem like they’re small gifts, but too many of these add up quickly. If you wait to pay, you might have to pay more than you’re expecting which could cause you to fall behind and be hit with late fees.
Jade Beckman, Vice President of Consumer Loans at Mountain America Credit Union has advised to “carefully consider how to use your credit card for certain planned expenses. In the months leading up to the holidays, make a plan of how much you are going to spend and start saving up. As you make purchases on your credit card, use the money you have saved up to immediately pay off your card.”
Track Your Spending
Whether it’s on a spreadsheet online, a carefully kept handwritten list or your financial institution’s app, tracking your spending is a must for keeping your expenses under control during the busy holiday season. Make specific plans on how to use your credit card so that things don’t get out of control, and track exactly what you are using it for.
Whether your budget is large or small, whether you’re trying to save as much money as possible or looking to go bigger than you ever have, these tips will help you stay on track for your financial goals, especially in the time of year when you’re more likely to be spending.