Getting ready for the holidays? That will put extra stress on your time and budget. Every time you shop, you’ll be facing temptations that could send your finances off the cliff. If you want to keep away from the edge , keep listening:
- Every store will push their own card. They’ll offer a 10-15% discount if you sign up at the register. With your little pile of purchases in front of you, it will sound like a good deal. Don’t do it.
Why not? Because they’ll run an inquiry on your credit report, instantly lowering your credit score and costing you more money in the long run. Don’t forget that store credit cards charge the highest interest rates out there. Think about the temptation you’ll face. With one purchase safely tucked away on a new credit card, you’ll find some breathing room in your checking account for more holiday purchases. Before you know it, you won’t have enough left to pay the store card in full. In the end, that discount will have cost you over 15%, putting you in the hole.
- You will be off your routine and forgetful. Between preparation, gatherings, and parties, something will probably slip through the cracks. You might even forget to pay a bill on time. Don’t do it.
Why not? Missing a due date will cost you a late fee – sometimes $35. If it’s a credit card payment, they could penalize you with an increased interest rate at a time you need it least. Worst of all, the late payment could end up on your credit report, lowering your credit score.
- You will want to spend more than you can afford. Don’t kid yourself. Holidays are a time of giving and sharing. You will get caught up in the moment and spend more than you planned. You may even spend so much, that you won’t have enough left over to pay your credit card in full when the bill arrives. Don’t do it.
Why not? It could take forever to pay off. If you have a $500 balance and only pay the minimum amount due (typically 2%) then it will take you 85 months (or 7 years plus) to pay off the balance. That is assuming you don’t make any other charges. Plus, you don’t want to start the New Year with new debt.
Plan ahead and use cash for holiday shopping to stay within your budget. That way, you can enjoy the holiday season without facing budget busting debt in January.