12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 7. Family Christmas Trips

Christmas is a busy time of year for everyone. It is also true for traveling. In fact, the holidays are peak travel season. If you have been scrimping and saving for a long time to take a dream vacation with your family, you may want to consider doing some research. The travel conditions at Christmas time can be challenging so be sure you are well prepared.

During the holidays you can generally expect to pay the most expensive rates for airfare, hotels, and attractions. If the price is not an object, then go for it. For the rest of you, you may want to find a non-peak time of year where your dollars can go MUCH farther and allow you to have many more experiences on your trip. Use a search engine to compare flexible dates to find the best deals.

Crowds are also at peak during Christmas time. Your patience will be tested. Be sure to be as well rested as possible, carry snacks to keep grumbly tummies at bay, and be armed with some games that can keep you entertained without any extra baggage. A little planning in advance can turn something that could be frustrating into fun!

Plan to be early to all timed events. Remember this is one of the busiest times of the year. Avoid the stress of being late and the possibility of missing out on an amazing experience because you didn’t make it on time.

If you must travel at Christmas just use these suggestions for a less stressful trip. If not, consider if at all possible, to travel during non-peak season to get more relaxation and fun for your money!

12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 6. “But They REALLY Deserve It” Overspending

I can justify just about anything. Just ask me. I can probably come up with a reasonable excuse for you on the spot. I bet you can too. This is because once we let our emotions start talking, they can be very persuasive. You know that little voice inside your head that starts whispering to you when you want something. It might say something like…”Wow, that is a perfect gift for mom. I know it is expensive and more than I had planned to spend “BUT SHE REALLY DESERVES IT”. When you start with that kind of language you need to pause.

This pause is needed so you can stop your emotional mind from talking and have your rational mind step in to start considering the consequences of overspending. If you make this purchase, what will it do to my spending plan? Can I shift items around or go without something so I can make this purchase for her? This next question can bring up all kinds of possibilities though. How can I get her that present without going over my spending plan?

Maybe you have siblings who can pitch in to pay a share. Are there any specials or sales coming up that you can take advantage of? Can you sell something you have to raise the money? Is there a way to earn extra income during the Christmas season? The possibilities are endless. As you go through the “How Can I?” process your answer might be a combination of all of them.

Usually, where there is a will, there is a way to get what you want. But don’t jeopardize your success from an emotional response. That’s not the way to get you where you want to be.

12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 5. Opening A Layaway Account

Layaway can have perks like getting some shopping done early, locking in a (hopefully) good price, and of course, spend within your planned amounts for Christmas. There can be coal though lurking in amongst those gifts though.

There can be opening fees associated with layaway accounts so carefully read the fine print. Which means you can pay more for something you aren’t getting right away. Plus it takes more out of what you can spend on gifts!

It is possible that once you lock in the price at layaway if it happens to go lower you aren’t able to get that Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal.

If you change your mind there can be a cancellation or a restocking fee for what you have in your layaway account.

There even can be item restrictions on layaway accounts that may include marked down items, furniture, and jewelry.

Of course, I have to mention the urge to spend more because you can spread the payments out. Always, always, always stick to your plan. Remember your plan can change but not while standing at the cash register. It needs to be well thought out and then adjusted. Stay the course!

Paying with cash will always give you the best edge so you can be in control of your spending at all times without any fees or penalties.

12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 4. Adding More People To Your Gift List

I am sure everyone has this moment before…someone who has never given you a gift before suddenly gives you a gift. AWKWARD MOMENT. You immediately panic and wonder what to say. Do you lie and say, “Oh no, I left your gift for at home.” Which means that you are now obligated to go and buy a gift, even you weren’t intending on buying in the first place which was NOT part of your spending plan. Beyond that, consider that this one instance where you feel you have to a gift may turn into an annual obligation for years to come! Not good. Don’t add more people to your gift list that you do not sincerely WANT to give a gift too!

In these types of situations, honesty is always the best policy and you can avoid years of gift obligation by just saying, “I am surprised by your thoughtful, generous gift. I didn’t know we were exchanging gifts. I feel terrible I have nothing for you, but I just love the gift. Thank you very much.” Period. Nothing more needs to be said. You have recognized that they are thoughtful and generous AND that you don’t have a gift for them. No further obligation this Christmas or any other.

Gift giving can easily get out of control very fast. Only give gifts that you have planned on in your spending plan and within limits, you set per person. Then you can have a peaceful Christmas by staying on the right financial track!

12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 3. Using Credit Cards For Gift Loans

It can feel great to get that treasured item on your loved one’s list that they have always wanted. Even if you can’t pay for in full, your credit card allows you to get it now. Just put it on a credit card. That way you can make payments and it’ll be MUCH more affordable, right? Wrong.

Debt creeps up on you like snow piling up during a snow storm. You don’t notice how quickly it’s piling up because you’re not really paying attention. Then the slow-moving avalanche of credit card debt can bury when you are blinded by the emotion of getting what you want now. And once you start leaving a balance forward on your credit card it is soooo easy to just keep adding to that balance because the payment is so low AND you have more credit available!  So why not get that gift now and have what you want, and then pay it off a little at a time?

Well, unfortunately, the card does have a limit, and once that card’s limit has been reached, you still need to pay on it every month, for a very long time. No problem, just open up a new card account and use that one, until that one is maxed out. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Before you know it, your credit runs out, and you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, paying minimum payments for on things you don’t even have anymore! You could be in debt for years, maybe even decades paying high rates of interest on that special Christmas gift you HAD to get, leaving you no money left over for the things you really need.

Don’t get blinded by the snow storm.  Spend responsibly, if you can’t pay for it now, don’t buy it. Put the money you would have spent on interest into investments. That way you’ll have the money to get what you want in the future.

12 Things At Christmas That Can Add Debt To Me – 2. Buying gifts at 0% interest

These offers can be soooo enticing. Especially when you see that big screen TV or a really comfy recliner that your significant other has ALWAYS wanted and that sign above the coveted item says everything that you always wanted to hear…“Same as CASH. No down payment, interest, or payments until NEXT YEAR!” You’re thinking that’s it. The deal is done. I am going home with that for Christmas and it is going to be the BEST gift EVER! But does it always turn out that way? No.

Now if you planned for this purchase and the money is already sitting, waiting to pay the bill from your Christmas gift line item in your spending plan, congratulations! You really understand how to use the spending plan! However if you didn’t have the money in your spending plan, you should NOT be spending it. Just because you delay the payment does not mean that you didn’t spend it. It needs to be taken out of your line item on your spending plan for Christmas immediately and paid for. If you don’t, you have now incurred personal debt which doesn’t help you be debt free.

If you keep the loan, not only have you increased your debt but in many cases if you go over the “interest free time” specified by the agreement, you could be liable to pay for all of the interest retroactively from the date of purchase. That could be a large sum and not something you put in your spending plan.

And since you never intended to pay ANY interest, I bet you never looked to see what the interest rate is. Right? I bet you can guess that since no one usually pays attention to an interest rate they never intend on paying, you can pretty much count on it being OUTRAGEOUS!

The best idea is to just buy cash and not ever get tangled up in these types of agreements.

12 Things At Christmas That Can Add Debt To Me – 1. Gift Spending Without A Plan

Will you be naughty or nice to yourself? The top item that can add debt to you when shopping for Christmas is to do so without a spending plan. It is imperative that you have a line item in your monthly spending plan for gift giving all year round. I’ll tell you a little secret to help you make sure your gift giving item in your plan is properly funded and you don’t end up robbing your emergency fund on a gift you forgot. It isn’t a surprise or an emergency that many people celebrate Christmas as a gift-giving holiday on the 25th of December every year. So ALWAYS have this item in your spending plan.

Here is a simple example to illustrate a hypothetical plan. If you are a family of four, two parents and two children, and you are lucky, are you have two sets of grandparents, we have 8 people to buy for.  If we plan to spend $120 on each child, $25 for each grandparent, and the parents plan to spend $60 on each other, then the calculations work out like this:

Kids $120 X 2 = $240
Parents $60 X 2 = $120
Grandparents $30 X 4 = $120
Total to save for Christmas Spending Plan item $480
Monthly allotment to save $480 / 12 $40

 

Of course, this plan needs to be adjusted to each individual situation. If the plan isn’t followed it can’t help you. So once you have established one that works within your overall spending plan. “Locke” it in and commit to sticking to it!

Time is Money! Keep more of it. Podcast

 

Time is Money! Keep more of it.

Some people are born poor, others rich. Some with great parents, others have no parents at all. Some people are born with perfect health or special abilities and others with daunting challenges.
Life can be unfair in so many ways. But there is one area where we all have a level playing field and that area is time. We all have 24 hours in a day and it’s what we do with that 24 hours that determines our destiny. It’s time you started utilizing you time.

Time is money

Time Money Switch Showing Hours Are More Important Than Wealth

Do you make the most of your time? Do you have some time saving tips to share? Well, please join the free monthly Financial Freedom Classroom webinar on Thursday, February 4th at 7:30pm EST where we will share some of our tips and you can contribute yours. Let’s all make more money by saving our time!