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.
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