Opening gifts each December is a ton of fun. Opening the resulting bills in January is not. Yet every holiday season millions of consumers use their credit cards to finance gifts they don’t have the cash to pay for. Consider the following before you start shopping this holiday season.
There are only two legal ways out of debt – cutting expenses or increasing your income. Decide which works for you and commit to it before you start shopping.
Prioritize. What’s more important? Paying your mortgage and buying food or giving gifts you can’t afford? Consider shortening your gift list or giving smaller gifts to adults. In times like these, friends and family understand.
Be realistic about your financial situation. Create a damage sheet. List the names of your creditors and the amount owed to each with current interest rate. Total it up. Update this sheet monthly and tape it where you see it regularly.
Create a budget for this year’s holiday shopping as well as a repayment plan for what you already owe. Do this after tracking your expenses for one month. You want every expense included in your budget.
Shop smart. Comparison shop and use your Union Plus discounts to help you stay within our December budget. http://www.unionplus.org/discounts-savings-gifts/holiday-gifts
Set aside an hour each Sunday to address your finances. Staying on top of expenses will help you stay within your budget.
Shelve your credit cards. If you’re concerned about your credit card spending, take them out of your wallet and leave them at home. In fact, store them with your damage sheet to remind you of your balances. If you have to use credit, don’t charge anything you can’t pay off within 90 days.
Pay off the credit cards with the highest interest rates first.
If you’re having trouble making a dent in your debt, consider Union Plus Credit Counseling provided the reputable Money Management International. This credit counseling program has a unique debt management plan (DMP) grant that union members can get free assistance.
Learn from past experience and commit to staying within budget this year so you can debt-free next year. And check out the Union Plus Credit Clinic for even more tips.