Use Credit Cards Wisely During the Holiday Season

By ccflyers on August 26, 2007

November and December are termed as the ‘shopping months’ of the year. Around about Christmas people usually throw caution to the wind and decide to indulge in some shopping.  If you are also part of the shopping brigade and often find yourself looking at massive credit card bills by the time your shopping is done, here are a few tips to help you use your credit cards wisely during the holiday season.

Before you start shopping, the first thing you need to do is make a budget. Agreed it sounds rather boring to make a budget and shop, but the truth is most people usually have no idea how much they have spent. Its only when credit card users receive their credit card bills do they realise how much they have spent on their Christmas shopping. It is therefore essential to keep a budget in mind every time you shop. At the end of each day of shopping, you should sit down and total all your receipts. Hence it is essential that you save all your receipts from not just your shopping, but also other expenses like restaurants.

By constantly monitoring your expenditures you can ensure that you do not overspend. Another common mistake people make when it comes to expenses is assuming that gifts are the only expense during the holiday season. The truth is that restaurant bills and other entertainment expenses also add to a mounting credit card bill. In fact every time you go out, make sure that you incorporate your food and entertainment expenses within your budget. If you do not want to confuse the issue, you can always have a separate budget for shopping, and a separate budget for other expenses like restaurant bills, entertainment and travel expenses.

Another misconception that most people have when they shop for the holiday season is assuming that expensive gifts are always the best gifts. This is not true, sometimes people prefer home made gifts or personalised gifts to branded products. In fact in the UK and other European countries personalised gifts have become a trend. More and more people have started gifting and receiving personalised gifts. If you are thinking of doing some shopping for friends and family it is always a good idea to buy something that the recipient of the gift will truly enjoy. The last thing you want happening is your friend or family member adding your gift to a cupboard full of similar gifts. In a nutshell make sure every gift is special and special does not necessarily mean expensive.

Chances are that a majority of your holiday season expenses will be holiday shopping. If you are planning on doing a lot of holiday shopping then beware, more often than not people end up buying a lot more than they have planned for. Chances are you will end up shopping in a mall or store. And with credit cards a person usually gets an infallible feeling. As there is no immediate exchange of cash involved, people end up buying stuff that they do not need. If you are also susceptible to such expenditures, make sure you have a meaningful shopping list made out. Once you reach your destination make sure you stick to the list and do not buy anything other than what’s on the list. This way you can make sure you do not buy a single thing more than you need (however if your list is poorly made you will end up spending more than what you should).

In conclusion: The holiday season is a time for fun and shopping, and a credit card is a much safer option when compared to carrying large amounts of money. Not only do credit cards allow shoppers to shop more freely, most credit cards also offer reward points and bonuses every time a users shops using their credit card. Just because there is no physical exchange of cash involved it does not mean that you are not spending your hard earned money. In fact this is why it is important to have a budget and a shopping list before you start shopping. Also remember that food and travel expenses usually make up a much larger section of the holiday season expenses when compared to shopping.

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