Christmas is just around the corner. Most of us who celebrate the holiday have our trees up, lights out, and wreaths on the door. If you’re really organized, you may even have Christmas cookies decorated. For the most part, most of us have done all the damage to our bank accounts that we can possibly do until next Christmas.
The kids may not yet be nestled all snug in their beds, but they are probably bouncing off the walls, filled with sugar, and getting excited about Christmas break. They are also being exposed to just enough TV and online advertising (not to mention the pressure from their peers) to come home every day from school with new ideas for gifts they forgot to ask Santa to bring them but absolutely must have.
This week, as you count down toward the magical day, the decisions you make can make or break your credit score in 2012. If you succumb to the desperate advertising of retailers and the adorable pleas of your kids and spend that extra $500 on your credit card – or worse yet, open a new card – you’ll pay for it throughout the year next year.
Retailers make a good majority of their revenues for the year between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, and they are counting on you to spend more than you have, to believe that you are getting a good deal when they mark items down 50%, and to take advantage of their in-store offers to “save 10% when you open a new credit card now.” The pressure, already high from about mid-September when the Christmas trees start showing up, gets cranked up a notch this week.
Just say no.
Remind yourself that your kids will be happy with the presents they already have under the tree, even if it doesn’t seem like it. And if they’re young enough, they’ll probably be satisfied playing with the packaging, boxes, and bows.
If you do feel compelled to do just a little more shopping, do yourself a favor and only spend what you can afford to pay for with cash. If you got a Christmas bonus or have a little extra cash after paying the bills this month, use that to round out your Christmas presents, but don’t put yourself in the position of having to pay off Christmas for the first half of the next year.