20
Nov

Avoid Holiday Debt

When December rolls around, are you reminded of caroling and cheer, or over-spending and tears? If it’s the latter, you’re not alone.

Doesn’t it always seem like, no matter what, holiday expenses overextend your savings? For this reason, the holidays can feel a little bittersweet for some people — thoughtful intentions can sometimes come up against a dwindling bank account.

Even though the Thanksgiving turkey hasn’t even been carved yet, consider taking a few proactive measures to plan, budget, and save in order to preserve your bank account during the holidays. Long before confronting an empty wallet in shopping mall lines, consider your current financial situation and make temporary (or permanent) lifestyle adjustments as needed. Here are the top five tips you can implement now to prevent holiday debt.

Create a shopping fund

Budgeting is a crucial part of living a responsible financial life every month, but especially during the end of the year push. Budgeting 101: funds in one account should not be moved to another. Unless confronted with an emergency, you should delegate funds to specific accounts and, when possible, try not to dip into savings.

This golden rule also applies to holiday savings. When receiving paychecks over the next several weeks, try to shave a little bit off where you can and stash that money where you won’t be tempted to touch it. Whether that’s a savings account or under the mattress, a safe “holiday fund” will mature out-of-sight and out-of-mind, making gift expenses much more bearable.

Cut out unnecessary spending

Of course, not everyone has extra funds to stash into a savings account. If this rings true for you, you might consider eliminating unnecessary costs until January. Make frugality your Current Year’s Resolution until the dust of holiday spending settles.

You might think, “morning coffee is not a luxury — it’s a need!” Some comforts might seem integral to your daily life, but to afford gifts for loved ones, you might need to rethink your lifestyle and make a few short term adjustments:

  • Eating out — A daily lunch run can cost $6+/day, or $30+/week. If you were to eliminate eating out strictly for the month of December, you would save over $120. That’s a significant sum that could be put into your holiday fund.
  • Subscription services — You still have time to suspend frivolous subscriptions for the month of December and save a good chunk of change. Consider whether or not you can sacrifice the Netflix subscription for a month. Or Hulu. Or Amazon Video. Or HBO Go…
  • Weekends — By the time Friday rolls around you might be tempted to unwind with a night out with friends, but these costs quickly add up. Especially if this cost occurs every weekend. Consider relaxing at home next time you’re called to the bar. At least until the holidays pass.

Pick up a seasonal job

We all know retailers are busier during the holidays, but instead of seeing this as an added nuisance, consider it a money-making opportunity. Every year, stores bolster their staff with seasonal workers to contend with increased business demands during the holidays. You can cash in on this opportunity to raise funds for the holidays. These are temporary, hourly positions that require little training and offer flexible hours.

If money is already tight given your current paycheck, you might consider picking up some extra hours under seasonal employment to afford holiday expenses. Even if you only work on weekends, maybe picking up 10 extra hours a week, you will receive a couple hundred extra dollars in December.

Compare prices to find great deals

While braving the mid-December mall gauntlet it might feel tempting to snatch up the first gift opportunity in sight and call it a day. However, be forewarned: impulse purchases are a savvy shopper’s worst nightmare. Retailers anticipate last-minute shopping anxiety, and prey on this energy by marking up prices.

Thanks to the Internet, it has never been easier to compare prices. Leverage technology to save where you can. Of course, this consumer luxury cannot be exercised last minute, due to lengthy holiday delivery times, so be sure to start shopping online sooner rather than later.

For those that prefer to shop in-person (or have convinced themselves as such, but actually just procrastinated until the last minute), most retailers offer a price match guarantee. This means if the perfect gift is out of stock at one store, you can bring in proof of the price to a competing retailer and get the same price there.

Get to the root of financial problems

No amount of last-minute holiday penny-pinching strategies will truly save your bank account without a solid financial foundation to begin with. After all, the holidays only make up a small portion of the year. What happens when the stockings go back in storage and the yuletide season is over?

Addressing fundamental financial issues is a proven way to jumpstart your bank account long before the holiday season arrives. It might be time to finally address outstanding debt, pay off those maxed credit cards and begin living within your means.

Easier said than done, right? Well, not necessarily. There are professional services out there that offer consumers a way to dig themselves out of debt. Professional credit repair, for example, leverages professional insight to investigate credit reports and dispute items that may be incorrect or unfairly reported. Consumers are able to re-establish their finances on a fundamental level, and see long term results, through professional credit repair. With a healthy credit score and bankroll, the holiday spending spree won’t be nearly as detrimental compared to years past.

CreditRepair.com is the industry leading credit repair service that works with clients to not only improve their credit scores but also help them establish an overall better relationship with their finances. On average, past CreditRepair.com members have seen 7 percent of their questionable credit report negatives removed per month. By addressing lifelong spending patterns, CreditRepair.com empowers clients to make significant, long-lasting changes and finally reach their credit goals.

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