One of the obvious downsides to the holiday season is how easy it is to either get into credit card debt or add to the debt that you already have. No other time of year holds more of a danger of over-using credit cards, which can take months to pay off due to the debt that is applied plus the interest that accrues. It is for this reason that most people would prefer to not go into credit card debt; over the holidays, or any other time. Unfortunately, many find people it happening anyway and sometimes feel helpless to prevent its occurrence. The thing is though, most people could avoid going into credit card debt at the holidays if they would follow some personal financial rules.
Everyone knows that the best way to avoid credit card debt, is to pay off those things you charge at the end of every month when the bill comes due. Doing so means not carrying over any due amounts from month to month, thus avoiding interest and surcharges. What’s difficult is making that happen, especially around the holidays, because so often we want to spend more during this period than we actually make, or are able to pay for in one month’s time. That’s the whole point behind credit after all. The way around this of course is to spread holiday purchases over more months prior to the holiday season, which means shopping much, much earlier than most shoppers do. The fact is, most people would be far better off if they would shop all year long, instead of starting in November, or worse December. This way, those items purchased could be paid for by the end of the month in which they were bought, thus avoiding turning those purchases into debt.
Another way to avoid using credit cards to amass debt around the holidays is to take advantage of the lay-away plans that most major stores offer. This of course means also shopping early so as to have the item put on lay-away, paid off before Christmas so that it will be available to be given as a gift.
And finally, perhaps the harshest financial advice would be for consumers to cut back on their shopping to levels that they are able to support. This generally means making gift lists and sticking to them, buying things on sale and avoiding impulse buying as rule of thumb.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a time for burying yourself in debt, all it takes is some good planning and then some fiscal discipline.