Posted in Editorials

Managing Debt During the Holidays

7-ways-stick-holiday-budget-1-intro-lg-1Financial debts are burdensome, worrisome and tend to send us in a spiraling sinkhole by the passing day.  Unfortunately, these debts don’t reverse as quickly as we expect, and most certainly will still be lurking in our empty bank accounts when the holidays hit.

The act of giving presents for the holidays, is essential for most families, and is considered an annual tradition of giving, compassion, and family and holiday joy.   But, for some, it may be difficult to shell out during the holidays when you’re basically spending money you don’t have.

So, how can we manage the growing pile of bills, while still putting a smile on our family and friend’s faces?

Here are a few realistic tips that I think is worthwhile to consider.  Let’s be honest, managing debt is not a leisurely undertaking, but a few ways you may be able to spend less during the holidays, may make it less burdensome.

Make a budget and stick to it
Instead of thinking how much you should spend on each person this year, think about an overall budget. What’s your total cap you can spend according to what you can afford. This will help you allot the appropriate amount to each gift and help you keep track if you’re spending too much on one gift. Sticking to the budget is key, and knowing if you do want to spend more, let’s say on your special beau, just be sure you now know you have less to spend on others.

Shop around and shop smart
Do not be that shopper that just walks into the store and picks up the first item you see. Competitive pricing is alive! Shop around and look for deals. Use coupons- no one will know (unless they read this article).  Most often the scarf you see for $30, may be swapped up for $10 at another outlet. Do your research if you’re looking for a specific item.  Bargain buying is the way to go.

Choose one day to hit the stores
I know I’m a big offender of this one. Going back to the stores multiple times makes me spend more. I see other things that I DON’T need, or think of an unlikely present, just because. Trying to get all the shopping done on one or two designated days may save you unnecessary spending. The less time you spend shopping, the more money  you have to pay those debts!

Stick to the motto “At least for the kids”
The holidays are embraced by children. Their lists to the man in the North Pole filled with their favorite toys followed by a “I promise I was good this year.” Milk and cookies left for the big guy and the anticipation galore heats up as they secretly dream about the array of presents under the tree waiting for them in the morning, There is nothing wrong with skimping on a few family members and just buying for the kids. After all, the holidays are about their beaming faces on Christmas morning!  Who’s considered a kid you ask- I’ll go with those under 18, but you can cheat a bit on this if you like.

Do not finance ANY gifts
what’s the point of paying off for your mom’s new furniture set, next year? There is none. I see your debt rising and your sinkhole getting deeper. Just don’t do it. Don’t let the 18 month 0 down scheme get you. It will also mean, less budget for next year! The interest rate will rocket by the time you can pay it off and your cash flow will seriously be disrupted.

Save some cash (this is a hard one)
I’m being realistic as I write this, as I know it’s a difficult task. But, try to save some cash to spend for holiday gifts rather than swiping the card. Credit card debts are the number one culprit and it really puts families in serious dangers. You still have time- even if its $5 a day- put it aside and be happy when you can pull out the hard earned cash rather than the plastic that you’ll owe in great interest.

Happy holiday shopping and good luck!

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Author:

I am an independent filmmaker and producer and freelance writer. I received my Bachelors degree in Journalism from Hofstra University, a Masters degree in Communications and Film Productions from the New York Institute of Technology and I am a former graduate of the New York Film Academy in New York City. I have experience as on-air TV reporter for NYIT’s LI News Tonight News Station. and have written opt editorials on various topics for Caribbean newspapers and magazines. I've also worked in the radio industry as a producer, board engineer, and newscaster at WRHU Hofstra University, 1240AM WGBB, and 930AM WPAT. I am currently the Vice President of Friends of New York’s West Indian Community, a non-profit organization aiming to uplift the Indo-Caribbean Community and work at St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children as the Manager of Marketing and Communications.

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