I love everything about the holiday season. The lights, the food, the good cheer in the air, and the family get-togethers. As I mentioned the other day, I even love Black Friday, which I know makes me sound like a complete lunatic. Most sane folks hate the crowds, but I find it energizing and festive.
Speaking of shopping and insanity, last week I did an interview about credit cards and “safe spending” during the holidays. Here’s the video of my interview on CBS Philly with savvy consumer reporter Jim Donovan.
For those of you who prefer scanning bullet points (you know who you are!), here are some basic things to keep in mind when using your credit cards this holiday season:
- Check the balances on your rewards cards. If your rewards program allows you to redeem points or miles for merchandise or gift cards, this is a good way to finance a few gifts. Or if you need to travel during the holidays, use your miles to save on airfare.
- Don’t go shopping without a holiday budget. Even if you don’t have a regular monthly budget (I won’t scold you now, but you should really put one in place for 2013), make one just for the holidays.
- Decide how much you’ll spend on each person on your list. I have kids and I know how easy it is to go overboard if you haven’t decided on a dollar amount before you hit the mall.
- Track your spending. Really, if you don’t do this, you won’t stay on budget. When you reach your budget, you’re done. Period.
- Don’t be impulsive when it comes to store credit cards. These cards have high interest rates and applying for one can ding your credit score a little. My post, Just Say No to Store Credit Cards, gives tips about whether or not these cards are a good idea for you.
So there’s your quick-and-dirty guide to smart spending for the holidays. Really, just keep a few simple things in mind and you can avoid the “holiday hangover” that comes in January if you have credit card debt.
Just a quick word to say I hope everyone has a Happy, Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for many things, but especially for my family and friends. I’m also thankful to all of you who take the time to read my blog.
Thanksgiving dinner is at my house this year and I’m making a pecan pie, which is a tradition at my house. I can’t wait to have a slice of it with Breyer’s Vanilla Bean ice cream on the side. As for “real” food, I’m looking forward to my mashed potato casserole and my sister’s jalapeno cornbread muffins.
What dish are you most looking forward to eating on Thanksgiving?