American families owe more than $1 trillion in credit card debt! That’s bigger than the gross domestic product of some countries. Credit card debt has been normalized simply because, while wages are rising very slowly, our ability to earn has been outstripped by the cost of living. We put a lot of things on our credit cards nowadays, things that our parents and grandparents would never have bought unless they had the cash to pay for them. We use credit cards for every day expenses, such as gas and groceries. Many of us have cards that give us rewards and we feel comfortable in spending to attain them. However, credit card debt can still be a deep hole to dig yourself out of. Try these five tips to avoid credit card debt, or from going further into debt, over the upcoming holiday season.
Avoid Credit Card Debt with These Five Tips
There are lots of ways to avoid credit card debt, but we think these are the five best tips that anyone can follow. Give yourself the best present of all; a January where you don’t go into shock over your December credit card bills. You’ll feel better, be less stressed, and you won’t have to figure out how to pay yet another credit card bill.
Throughout the holiday season many stores ramp up their offerings of store credit, deferred payment, or deferred interest. Don’t fall for it. At this time of year the APR’s are generally much higher than they are during the rest of the year, when demand is lower. Avoid credit card debt by not opening any more credit cards accounts.
- Track your spending in a way that you can’t ignore. Posting a whiteboard on the refrigerator with each holiday expenditure will let you see how much it’s really costing you and how close you’re sticking to your budget. It’s not just presents and decorations, but the little things like wrapping paper, entertainment, and spending at holiday parties. Once you hit that preset dollar figure, you have to close your wallet and suck it up.
- Leave the plastic at home. When you go out to do your shopping, take only a certain amount of cash with you. Avoiding credit card debt and sticking to your spending limits is easier when you can’t just whip out the plastic.
- Get crafty. Doing arts and crafts is a great way to lower your spending on gifts, and add a personal touch that a present from a big box store simply can’t touch. Additionally, it’s a great way to work on gifts as a family and give everybody a chance to help.
- Use layaway. Back before everyone had a credit card, layaway was a popular method to pay for large purchases and holiday gifts. Paying a certain amount towards the total each week means that when you pick up those gifts they are paid for free and clear.
- The best tip to avoid credit card debt is to practice these important words, “I can’t afford it.” We have been taught to be ashamed that we can’t afford to keep up with the Kardashians, or buy expensive gifts at the drop of a hat. There is no reason to be ashamed that you are living within your means, and doing it in an unabashed fashion in order to avoid credit card debt. Driving yourself into debt in order to get the people you love what material goods they want is not the mark of loving or caring. The best present should be your continued financial stability and peace of mind. Material items are sometimes forgotten by the time the next holiday season rolls around. The people who love you will understand. Children might be disappointed, but they don’t understand how important it is to avoid credit card debt, and to stay within a budget.
Credit Card Debt Out Of Control?
There are a number of legal approaches to help you deal with excessive debt. There’s rarely one type of debt at the heart of financial problems – student loan debt, mortgage debt, medical bills, and other financial drains can lead to using credit cards to cover basics that should be paid with cash or debit cards. Whether it’s a debt workout with a creditor, or a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, The Cohen Law Firm is here to help. Our experienced attorneys can help you get back on your feet and tame your debt. Call today, you have nothing to lose except your debt and your stress.