It’s those car commercials where unsuspecting loved ones are surprised with a beautiful new luxury car (or two) with a big red bow on it. These ads run so frequently that it’s almost like everyone is giving and getting new cars for holiday gifts!
Yes, perhaps this is a bit dramatic, but seriously I don’t know anyone – including myself – that doesn’t spend more money than planned during the holiday season. It’s especially hard for those working to repair their credit and get their financial house in order, this can be an especially stressful time of year. Well, not to worry, I’ve got your back and I’m here to guide you to a worry-free, joyful, abundant holiday season without all the stress of derailing your financial goals.
The first step is to remember this one thing, whether you’ve got to create a new home screen on your smartphone, write it on your bathroom mirror or repeat it to yourself over and over every time you open the doors of the department store: love is not measured in stuff, joy cannot be bought, and peace has no price tag.
Are you with me? If so, I’ve got a few tips to share with you that will help you to reduce the stress of the holidays on your credit and financial goals. Even during the holidays you can keep going with a plan and you can be successful. It’s up to you, and here’s how:
Tip #1 – Plan ahead for your spending. You need to create a realistic plan and budget for your holiday spending. Create a list of all the gift giving you will do, as well as any other holiday spending like travel, etc. I don’t know about you but I always manage to forget a few people for gift giving, so make sure you build a cushion into your plan for those ‘ooops I forgot’ gifts. When you do this, and honor your plan, you have total peace when you’re out shopping because you know you have the money, you have a plan, and holiday shopping becomes stress-free and fun!
Now, it’s time to go shopping!
Tip #2 – Pay in cash. When you go out to the stores to shop, you can eliminate the stress of ‘over-buying’ or spending more than you had planned by paying with cash. The beauty of this practice is that when the cash is gone, shopping is done. I know it sounds simple, but if you’ve had issues in the past with over-charging and feeling the stress and worry afterward, you’ll appreciate not having that feeling this holiday shopping season. Yes, I know many of us shop online and don’t use paper cash, so you can do the same by paying with your debit card and avoiding the use of your credit cards.
Tip #3 – Pay with credit and pay off right away. If over-spending and using your credit cards doesn’t worry you or add unnecessary stress to your holiday, you can also choose to pay with your credit card and pay them off right away. You’ll get all the benefits to your credit score and points – if that’s important to you. To reduce the worry of over-spending, consider recruiting an accountability partner to help you stay on track.
Tip #4 – Don’t max out credit cards. If you do plan to use your credit cards for holiday shopping, avoid overcharging them. This will not only create holiday guilt and shame, but can also derail your financial and credit goals for the year. Keeping low balances also helps maintain a high credit score.
Tip #5 – Have fun! If in the past you have fretted about holiday bills in January and suffered from the holiday spending hangover. I invite you to just decide right now to do it differently this year. Imagine waking up on New Year’s Day with no worries, no extra bills to pay and no additional money stress. How would that feel?
Holiday spending with a plan is incredibly fun and free of worry. It just may bring you some of that extra love, joy, and peace we all could use more of!