How Can I Keep Debt Down Around the Holidays?

Give yourself the gift of good credit for the holidays! Check out these tips for budgeting during the holiday season.

Give yourself the gift of good credit for the holidays! Check out these tips for keeping debt down this holiday season.

By Ellen Henderson Sirull

The holidays can be packed with extra spending – from trips to visit the fam to getting your best friend the jacket you know she’ll love.

There are a few ways you can try to keep the fun and giving up while keep costs down.

Here are three things you may want to pay attention to in order to keep your debt down around the holidays.

Be smart with your spending
When I was little, my mom taught us how to calculate percentages with bargain shopping. If you have your eye on a particular gift for that special someone, there are plenty of ways you can try to save money. Check prices online, be on the lookout for sales and seek promotional codes or coupons – whether online or in the Sunday paper. It’s amazing what you can find if you just spend a little time. That way you can get your friends and family the gifts you want to give without breaking the bank. You can also get creative if your budget is tight – take your niece or nephew to an affordable children’s museum or treat your mom to a picnic in the park. Your family and friends will appreciate thoughtfulness, especially if they know you’re working on saving up.

Be careful taking on too much extra credit
You may think it’s a good idea to get a store credit card and save or spread out payments over time. But, don’t be so quick to open an account on the spot to save money. While sometimes you can qualify for discounts or get access to extra perks, you don’t want to put yourself in a bind trying to pay things off before interest starts accumulating. So, just make sure you read the fine print when getting new retail cards. You may want to research credit cards online to find out which have benefits such as no annual fees, low interest rates and rewards programs.

"Wonder if I am over-budget this year? Oh, well!"

“Wonder if I am over-budget this year?”

Give gifts to yourself, too
Winter months may mean giving for many Americans, which is great to do. It’s also important to not let yourself slip when it comes to your finances and credit. You can do yourself a favor by setting your budget and sticking to it. And that will be a nice gift in the new year… not having to worry about extra bills! Be leery of racking up credit card debt as you may find it hard to pay off all the bills when they come the next month. And falling behind on payments is one of the things that could most impact your credit.

These are just three ways to keep an eye on your budget, finances and even the larger picture that includes your credit over the holidays. These suggestions can extend throughout the year, too, and can also be helpful during any time you may be spending more than usual, like during a move.

Ellen Henderson SirullAbout Ellen Henderson Sirull
Ellen Henderson Sirull is Editor-in-Chief for Experian Consumer Services, which offers credit monitoring products like freecreditscore.comTM.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

Published by permission from, Inc.  © 2013, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Ricardo Reitmeyer, Hasloo Group Production Studio

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