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Thanks to online shopping, it’s oh-so-easy to overspend at Christmas time.

Particularly since you don’t even have to move from the couch or change out of your trackies! The feeling is not so great however, when you get your credit card bill and suddenly realise you don’t have the cash to pay for it. Something we like to call the Christmas Credit Hangover.

To ensure you don’t wake up one morning devoid of all Christmas cheer, we’ve put together a list (and checked it twice) of our top tips to keep your credit card debt under control this spending season.

Make your list and stick to it

It can be very easy to become distracted when shopping for other people, especially if you’re just clicking around a bit aimlessly. Before you know it, the shopping cart (or carts) have been filled but ‘the list’ is still as big as when you started.

If you don’t know what items you’re specifically looking for, don’t start looking! Without a clear idea of what presents you’re going to buy, or a spending limit for each person, the risk of overspending is much higher.

Don’t leave it all to the last minute

It can be hard to do this successfully if you’re shopping for little ones who keep changing their minds (“I want triangle toast,” “NO I want squares!”), but try to pace yourself. The earlier you start shopping, the less likely you will end up buying the latest iPad for Nan just because it’s the only thing that offers next-day delivery. Spreading your expenditure out over a numbers of weeks can also make it easier to pay those pesky bills when they suddenly appear in your letterbox.

Only spend what you have

This isn’t a tip but more of an important reminder: a credit card is not a substitute for money you don’t have. Some people have credit limits far beyond what they can cover with a fortnight’s pay (or their savings). You need to be able to pay your credit card bill in full, else your purchases cost you WAY MORE than they should. If you know you have trouble spending only what you can afford, get rid of the card or reduce your limit!

Let’s repeat that: A credit card is not free money!

Get help if you need to

If you do wake up with a dreaded Christmas Credit hangover, don’t beat yourself up about it too much. What’s most important is how you handle it.

There are lots of things you can do to get things back on track.

  • Back away from the credit card. Get rid of it if you have to.
  • Pay as much as you can as fast as you can (it will save you on interest)
  • Look into options of transferring the balance to an interest-free card AND THEN get serious about paying it off. Set up a regular payment plan (where the money gets automatically transferred after each pay day) and set yourself a timeline to pay it off.

Investigate whether you have the option to consolidate credit card debt (or perhaps other personal debt too) into your home loan. Home loans generally have lower interest rates than credit card or personal loan facilities. Providing you pay off the additional debt in the same amount as time as you would have with the credit card (hopefully less!), you will save money. It’s definitely worth having a chat to your mortgage professional about.

How are you handling your Christmas shopping this year? Share with us in the comments.

Image source: Pexels

  • take advantage of any long layby offers that you see about 6 months from christmas. this helps to budget for it and curbs overspending and splurge buys

    Reply

  • If you want to shop online get a prepaid credit card. Can’t spend money you don’t have.

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  • Why do people even have credit cards?! They are the biggest pit fall to getting into huge debt

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  • Christmas means no credit as debt to celebrate one day of the year is pointless and puts family under stress for all of the other days of the year. If we cannot afford it then we don’t get it.

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  • Never had or used a credit card. I have a debit card, which is ok as I can only spend if the money is already there, but can still use like a credit card to shop online etc

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  • i agree it is easy to shop on line and get carried away.

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  • If you know well ahead what you are definitely going to buy watch for sales.
    You can probably adjust your budget a little to do this where if you wait until late you often have no option but to spend all your money in bulk.

    Reply

  • I don’t have a credit card. I prefer to use a debit card. At Christmas time I try to stick to a budget and I never buy what I can’t afford. It can become very tricky indeed.


    • You are so right – it can be very tricky. Using a debit card is a great way to manage it!

    Reply

  • Using a credit card is so easy for Christmas presents but you have to remember you need to be able to afford to pay it back.


    • It’s amazing how many of us forget this very important part… you need to be able to pay it back!



      • Financial Literacy needs to be taught in school.

    Reply

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