Ho ho ho, happy holidays! If you are like me, you end up eating a little too much, drinking a little too much, and spending a little too much over the holidays. And it is so easy to overspend if you buy on credit — people spend about 15 percent more on purchases they pay for with a credit card than when they shell out cold cash or use a debit card. Unfortunately, all that indulging adds up… the scale doesn’t lie, and neither does your credit card balance!
While I yet to master the scale part myself, I can offer you some tips to stay clear of excessive holiday credit card debt. Really, it’s quite simple: just avoid using your credit card! No, I’m just kidding — obviously, that’s not realistic for most of us. However, I have compiled a handful of tips that may help you through the holiday rush, help you stay clear of credit card debt and keep your spirits bright.
- Make a gift-giving budget and stick to it. Aww… did I really have to use the “B” word? I know that puts a damper on everything, but you really don’t have to be a Scrooge to save money. Join with others to purchase big gifts, or give a family gift rather than individual gifts. If your family is big, draw names so that each person only has to buy one gift, or only give gifts to the children in the family.
- Decorate on the cheap. Instead of splurging on holiday knickknacks, use your ingenuity. Bundle pine boughs to capture the scent of the holidays, or buy wide velvet ribbon and tie bows on everything from doorknobs and banisters to candlesticks.
- Remember what’s important. Think back to your fondest holiday memories from your childhood. Sure, you remember your first bike. But I’ll bet most of your happy memories are special times with loved ones. This year, take the family to a special holiday event or spend an evening singing carols around the fire. It’s those special moments that make the season special.
- Give from the heart. Bake bread, decorate cookies, knit a scarf or make a personalized scrapbook. A handmade gift or baked goods tells the recipient you invested time (not to mention love) in the gift – and that makes it priceless!
- Plan ahead for next year. It may be too late to do that for this year, but try that trick in the coming year. Squirrel away a little each month, and you’ll be able to pay for a good deal of your holiday costs at the end of the year in cash rather than whipping out the ol’ credit card.
And I leave you with this — remember to enjoy the holidays. Don’t stress yourself, spend yourself into debt or spread yourself too thin trying to create the perfect celebration. Memories make themselves when you cherish time with friends and family!