Credit card balances typically follow a seasonal pattern, increasing significantly in the fourth quarter, coinciding with holiday shopping, and millions of taxpayers are still carrying debt from last year’s holiday season. Whether you are diligent about paying your credit card in full every month or are still paying down debt from a previous spending spree, these tips will help you avoid overspending this year and keep credit card spending on track.
Review Your Credit Card Balances
Before you head to your preferred shopping venue, check your credit card balances. There’s nothing like seeing a large debt – or several – to make you think twice about spending. Writing it down has even more of an impact.
Control Your Spending
One of the most effective ways of controlling your spending is to develop a budget and stick to it. For holiday shoppers, setting a budget and then researching and compiling a list of items for each person you are giving a gift to goes a long way to curb impulse spending.
Pay Off High Interest Cards
If you are planning a last-minute holiday shopping spree this year and still have considerable debt on your credit cards, try to pay off any high-interest credit cards before you spend any more.
Pay with Cash
A recent MIT study indicates that shoppers spend more when using credit cards than they do when using cash because of the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. While you might not feel comfortable carrying around large amounts of cash, if you are trying to save money, it’s best to use cash for your purchases – even if it means making several trips. It is also easier to keep track of your spending, and you might even save a few bucks if the store charges a service fee to its customers for card purchases.
Get Help Managing Your Debt
Getting out of debt is a challenge that most people face – often multiple times – during their lifetime, and knowing how to manage debt and negotiate with creditors is a valuable skill that CPAs or other tax professionals can help you with.