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Financial Advisors Urge Consumers to Prepare for Holiday Spending

[Thursday, October 2nd, 2014]

As the weather cools off and leaves crunch under our feet, many of us start thinking about the holiday season. Holidays mean spending time with family, traveling, baking yummy treats—and spending money on gifts, entertaining, food, and activities.

Yes, the holiday season can be one of the most financially stressful times of the year. That’s why financial advisors are urging people to start preparing now, before we are in the thick of the gift-giving season.

The folks at GreenPath Debt Solutions, a nonprofit credit counseling organization, have a list of tips to help people prepare for a stress-free holiday season—at least, when it comes to your wallet.

  • Check your credit report. Katie Moore, a credit counselor with GreenPath, explains: “It’s important to review your credit reports, to see if there has been any suspicious activity with your accounts. The upcoming holiday season is a very busy time when it comes to using credit cards. If you don’t track your credit, you could be in for a surprise when you start gift shopping.” Moore reminds consumers that they can pull free reports once a year from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
  • Put aside a little cash each week. Even tucking away $25 each week can make a difference, come December and the height of gift-buying season. An extra hundred dollars or two means that much less potentially added to your credit card debt. “By using cash instead of credit, you will have less to pay off when your bills come in January,” says Moore.
  • Don’t forget about credit card rewards. If you have cash back credit cards, or points rewards credit cards, use them for everyday spending now, so you can have the cash or points available for holiday shopping. Many credit cards let you redeem points for gift cards, which can make holiday shopping easy. Gift cards make great hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. Saving up cash back or travel rewards can really pay off at the holidays too. Be sure to maximize your credit card rewards by looking at the specific offers on each card that you carry. Take advantage of rotating reward categories or travel bonuses.

Some early planning can make this holiday season more merry and less stressful. Remember to make a budget and stick to it, so you don’t start the New Year with a spending hangover. This is the time to start saving.

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