The holiday season is a wonderful time of year. It brings together family and friends to share good cheer and presents. While the holidays this year may be different, folks might try to overcompensate by picking more extravagant gifts. It may be okay if you don’t need the usual travel budget for out-of-town visits, but there is a lot of economic uncertainty right now, which means it is more important than ever to stick to your budget.
Tis the season to be thrifty
Here are some tricks and tips for avoiding long term debt on your credit cards while doing holiday shopping:
- Make a holiday budget: This should include all expected expenses and not just the gifts’ cost. Make sure to include shipping costs if you are mailing stuff. Other significant expenses during normal times include the cost of entertaining guests (food, drinks and decorations) and participating in other holiday traditions like shows or events.
- Change how you pay: It may make sense to use cash or a debit card. It may make even more sense to get a credit card with 0% APR for the first year or more if you are worried about cash flow. Do not use this as an excuse to overspend.
- Start early: Do not underestimate the power of a thoughtful gift that shows up early or on time—waiting until the last minute can limit options on gifts. Also, it can drastically increase any shipping charges. Plus, it enables you more time to find deals.
It’s the thought that counts
People are under a lot of stress right now with economic uncertainty, fear of illness and other challenges. Avoid making matters worse by accruing too much debt. Another way to do this is to safely give your time to loved ones, which will likely be just as welcome as a purchased gift.