Tricounty News

Take control of holiday spending

Set deadlines

The longer it takes you to pay off bills for holiday shopping, the more interest you’ll end up running up on your credit card balances. That’s why it’s a good idea to set a deadline—such as Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day – for making the last payment on your holiday bills. Keep that deadline in mind as you create your gift budget.

Give the gift of time

We all tend to reach for our credit cards when we think of holiday treats, but many thoughtful and welcome gifts cost little or nothing at all. Young parents may be delighted with an offer to babysit for an afternoon or evening, for example. A recent college graduate may appreciate some cooking lessons and copies of easy-to-fix family recipes. You could also surprise an elderly relative or neighbor with an offer to do household repairs or run errands for them. A young family member may enjoy a visit to a museum or local historic site. Other low-cost, thoughtful gifts include family photographs or other mementos in frames you’ve decorated yourself. By using your creativity, you may be able to come up with some truly memorable gift ideas that won’t bust your budget.

Pay wisely

One guaranteed way to stay on budget is by paying cash for all purchases, making it impossible to run up big credit card bills. If you’re short on cash, use the credit card that has the lowest interest rate. Not sure which one that is? Find out now so you can minimize the balances you’ll pay next year. Contact the credit card companies directly if you need a reminder of the terms of each account.

Seek moral support

It can be easy to splurge when no one’s watching, which is why it may be a good idea to shop with friends who will support your plans to stay on budget. Choose carefully. Not all friends may be a good influence when it comes to belt tightening! At the end of the day, treat yourselves by attending a free holiday concert together or renting a great video from the library.