The holidays are quickly approaching, and so is the New Year. It is easy to lose track of your spending and pile on credit card debt this time of year. As the year comes to a close, many of us might find that our generous gift-giving has left us with credit cards bills that may take several months to pay off. Or we may find that our credit card account information strayed into the wrong hands. Here are some suggestions that may help you prepare for this holiday season:
First things first: Make sure your existing financial obligations are up-to-date. These commitments should not be overlooked. Any late or missed payments will have an adverse impact on your credit that can hurt you later. Also, missing payments now will make it harder in January when the utility bills increase.
Plan Ahead: Budgeting is an important part of the gift-giving process. Set a ceiling on the amount that cannot be exceeded. If possible, stash the cash you will use for gifts throughout the year so that there you normal resources are not disrupted.
Keep close tabs as you shop: Whether shopping by internet, mail order, or store-to-store, keep a running tally of what you’re spending as you spend it with your gift list, budget, checkbook, and bank statements close at hand.
Watch your receipts, ATM receipts, and bank and credit card statements closely: The last thing you want to do is pay for mistakes or someone else’s charges. Stay vigilant: check your receipts, reconcile your statements, and Shred all documents containing personal information.
Review your credit report: If you have not checked your credit report lately, now is a good time to do so. You can obtain a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com
Take command of your credit during the holidays and don’t let holiday spending run amok. Keep these suggestions in mind the next time you pull out your wallet, and think twice before you let your debt take control of you.
Get your holiday planning started on the right track. Click here to download your FREE Christmas-Budget-Worksheet
Samirian, The MoneyWise Teacher