Five Ways to Make the Holiday Season More Affordable
Holiday shopping is more fun when you’re not worried about how you’re going to pay off your credit cards afterward. The best way to approach the season is to save money throughout the year, so you don’t need to rely on credit. But since we’re already counting down the days, let’s focus on what you can do if you weren’t able to save enough. Try these five ways to make the holiday season more affordable.
Before you start writing down names and dreaming up gift ideas, set a budget that feels comfortable. Find a reasonable number that you can stick to and use it to determine how much you’ll spend on each person and the types of gifts you’ll buy them.
I’ve found a great app, called Christmas Gift List. With this app, you add the names of the people you’re buying gifts for and set a budget for each person. You then enter a description and cost for each gift you purchase for those on your list. You can also add a photo of each gift and a link. This app can be password protected, so you can keep your gift giving ideas secret. You can also put holiday photos next to the names of the recipients, so you will really be in the spirit of gift giving. When the season is over, the app will archive your list so you can continue using it year after year.
Use a low-interest credit card
If your budget is larger than your savings, find a low-interest credit card that won’t cost you a fortune if it takes a while to pay down the balance. Rewards credit cards are great if you don’t carry a balance, but they often come with hefty interest rates that can end up costing more than they give back in rewards. For the holiday season, save yourself money by using the lowest-interest card you can find.
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Take out a personal loan
Another option for you, if you qualify, is a personal loan. Rates can be higher for a personal loan, so you’ll want to compare the rates of low-interest cards to those of a loan. You may only be able to find a loan term of one year, based on the purpose of the loan, so your payment could be higher. This can be a good way to make sure you pay the debt down faster, if you are able to make the payments.
Skip a payment
One way to improve your cash flow during the holiday season is to skip a loan payment. If you have a personal loan or auto loan with a financial institution that will allow you to skip one month’s payment during the holiday season, you might want to think about taking advantage of their skip-a-payment program. The cons of this program are that you may be required to pay a small fee for processing, and the payment that you skip will accrue interest daily. Consequently, when you make the next loan payment most of the payment will go towards the interest. Skipping a payment will also extend your term on the loan an extra month. However, if you are in need of extra cash this could be a better option than taking on additional unsecured debt.
Save for next year
We know the holiday season comes every year, so why don’t we save for it? Once this holiday season is over, prepare for next year by making a commitment to save. One suggestion that I have is to work with your employer to set up direct deposit, weekly or monthly, to a separate savings account. You can spend the year watching your money grow, and have a stress free season next year.
If you plan well, you may be able to use your credit card to save money. Read our eBook to learn how.