Bravely Shopping Without Credit Cards

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With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, it’s extremely common for shoppers to reach for their handy credit cards to purchase presents. It’s also quite common to see a hefty credit card bill the following January. Whether you feel you’re likely to rely on plastic this season or not, you should equip yourself with a few credit tips before you hit the malls for the big sales and bravely shop with credit cards.

If You Must Use Credit Cards, Use the Debit Kind

Holiday shopping is about spreading joy (with a hint of consumer capitalism) and making the most of your time with loved ones. Whether it’s purchasing a holiday ham, presents, decorations or the $150 light-up Santa Sleigh for the front yard, you shouldn’t have to meet the New Year with a new debt.

Swiping the credit card makes it difficult to keep track of just how much you have spent. Receipts or not, you may lose sight of your budget. So, if plastic is your preferred method of purchase, use your debit card. This way, you know exactly what your budget is because you’re paying with money you actually have, not money you will later owe. Plus, you avoid finance charges!

Better yet, if you’re like me and you tend to go way over budget, get yourself a prepaid credit card as a way to reign in your spending. These cards act like glorified gift cards with the world as your store.

Plan Your Shopping Attack

Due to a grim shopping forecast by consumer experts, department stores are expecting less than mediocre same numbers. They are quickly realizing that they don’t make money unless you walk in and spend it. As a way to entice you back to their registers, stores will be offering major sales and markdowns. If you plan your shopping around such sales, you could be walking out with bags full of bargains. Keep an eye out for early bird sales, 60-70% markdowns and specialty sales for home appliances, jewelry, etc.

Consolidating Presents

Rather than buy four separate presents for one family, consider purchasing one present they can all enjoy. Gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters or amusement parks can be a perfect way to save money (by only spending one amount on all four) and a subtle way of promoting family bonding.

The moral of the story here is that the holidays shouldn’t leave you in a heap of debt. With a shopping list in hand, you’re already demonstrating just how generous a spirit you have. Generosity should never equate to a large credit card bill. Instead, make the most of what you have. Avoid the credit cards, stay on top of the sales and give a gift everyone can enjoy together. With that kind of warmth and consideration, the New Year will be even sweeter, debt free.

write by Jimmy Spencer

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