I don’t know about you, but I’ve now eaten Thanksgiving leftovers in about four different forms, and I’m pretty ready to move on.
It may only be Nov. 28th, but all signs point to all-Christmas-all-the-time for the next month or so.
It is easy (and tempting) not to fight the madness and just go big at every turn and charge your credit card right into 2017.
Credit card debt is almost always accompanied by credit card regret. There is nothing quite like getting pumped up for a brand new year, full of opportunities, and fresh starts, and healthy habits, only to face 15-25% interest on all your Christmas cheer.
Emotions run high at Christmas, and of course, everyone’s circumstances, traditions, and priorities are different, but I want to encourage you: you do not have to go into credit card debt this Christmas.
You can minimize—even eliminate—holiday-induced credit card debt. Here are a few ideas, I’ve been mulling over this year:
Value And Sticker Price Are Not The Same Thing
This will sound cliche (especially if you roll your eyes while reading it—try to resist) it is the thought that counts. And while I’m at it, it is better to give than to receive.
A gift isn’t about how much you spend, it is the effort and intention behind giving it. Or the sincere card that accompanies it. If the holidays, are a season to celebrate and cherish the people you love (and I believe they are), you can do that without spending a dime.
Save Your Receipts Because Returns = Cash Money
You know how it goes, you sort of have an idea of what you’ll buy, and who you need to buy gifts for. But then this and that and them and the other. As you get further and further down your list (and your list’s addendum!), you may find you need to re-prioritize. The latest-greatest-whatever-it-might-be is not worth carrying a credit card balance with 25% interest.
Maybe you need to get creative and do something far less expensive, and even more meaningful. Just because you bought it, doesn’t mean you are stuck. Returning is a solid strategy. If you got in too deep, you still have time to adjust. Return and start over.
The most important thing is to remember, every step of this holiday season, you have choices. You get to decide. Even if you’ve done a lot of your shopping—making some returns is a small price to pay to avoid facing credit card debt come Dec. 26th.
Don’t Worry About What Anyone Else Is Doing
You don’t have to go overboard on every present, or attend every party, or out-do every neighbor. Your kid doesn’t need every single thing that they circled in the Target ad (which, for my kids, was literally every single thing in the ad).
Do what you are comfortable doing, what you can afford. Only do things you will not regret in January, things that don’t require a credit card. Maybe your Christmas will be a little different than last year, or than your neighbors or friends—but so will your January. And that is worth a lot.