Start planning for the holidays now
I'm currently looking out the window at a beautiful, sunny and warm Duluth day. So it's odd thinking about fall and winter holidays, but the truth is they'll be here soon. Some people are gifted in planning ahead and have already started thinking about and even shopping for the Christmas, etc. If you haven't, you probably should start now — for your bank account's sake.
Make a list
Start by writing down what you need to buy and/or whom you need to shop for. Then, estimate the costs of those items and gifts. If you're planning on having a big family dinner or party, include the estimated cost for that, too.
Save up money
Once you've determined about how much you'll likely spend, start saving a chunk from each paycheck and set it aside somewhere you won't touch it. If you need $300 by November, that means you'd need to set aside $150 in September and October. If that's not realistic, think about what you can sell. Do you have a dusty treadmill that you never use? Can you have a yard sale? Can you work overtime or earn more income another way? Set aside any extra money you earn or proceeds from sales for holiday shopping.
If you can set aside some money and shop a little that may be even better for your bottom line down the road. Buying something small each payday plus having money designated for shopping will both soften the financial blow come December.
Using credit cards can become a vicious cycle because of the interest charged. Unless you have 0% interest, you typically will end up paying quite a bit more than the original purchase price. With that said, credit cards aren't always bad if you can pay them off right away. Just don't bite off more than you can chew. Planning ahead will ease your stress down the road and help you have more stable finances.
If you carry balances on your credit cards month to month and want to pay them off faster with less interest, a Debt Management Plan may be your answer.
To find out if it's right for you, give LSS a call at 888.577.2227 for your free and confidential financial counseling session — either over the phone or in person. Or, if you prefer to do it via the web, just click the button below to get started with your online session.
Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.