Wildcat Connection February 2019 - Page 8


et’s talk about holiday gift giving. I know what you are thinking, “Why is she getting ready to talk to us about the holidays, aren’t they over?! We have just survived them!” I hope that it was a joyful time with family and friends and that financial strain isn’t what is looming this month or the months to come as you receive credit card statements. Many shoppers average over $1,000 in debt this holiday season. Those credit card shoppers will spend the next three months or more trying to pay it off. If you begin planning now, you can make sure the holiday season of 2019 will be full of Christmas cheer and have no credit card debit in 2020! Creating and maintaining a plan with your money for the holiday season will help the stress melt away and let joy take over.

A few tips first on how to pay off your past holiday debt: Dial back eating out, buying any new items, or adding more purchases to your credit card. Determine which card has the highest interest rate and pay that off first. Then take that money you have been paying on that card and start paying off the next card along with the minimum payment amount you were paying. This works with any debt, not just holiday debt.

As you look at the months ahead, you can start saving now or put a little aside each month – this works for holiday planning or anything you want to do this year. Other ideas to save include opening a savings account designated for holidays, save all your one-dollar bills when you break a larger currency, or come to the office and I’ll give you a sheet on how to save $1,000 in 26 weeks.

While we are talking about savings, an emergency fund is also a great way to prepare yourself for any surprises throughout the year. Regardless of the need – new tires, a broken hot water tank, refrigerator quits – you will be ready if you have a special fund set aside for anything that comes your way.

Lastly, these tips and tools to help you enjoy the season without letting holiday spending get the better of you.

Establish an overall spending limit but consider trade-offs. Once you have figured out your top dollar amount, continue to check back on it through the year. You may have to give and take when it comes to your decisions. Do what is best for your family.

Know which credit cards you should use and use cautiously; all credit cards are not equal. Pay attention to the percentage rate. . . If you carry a balance on your card, you will be paying a hefty bill on interest throughout the year.

Keep track of your charges – a great tip is to keep an index card with your credit cards and write what you charge down each time you make a purchase with it. It will help you remember you have a budget you are working with and keep over spending at bay. The Altamont office has some envelopes designed to help you keep track of your gift buying. It could also be a great tool to keep you on track every month! Stop by and pick yourself up one!