By Layden Hale and Netta Whitman
Remember the old “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” Alka-Seltzer commercial? Well, too often holiday spending can produce the same type pain as the overeating man in the classic antacid commercial.
January credit card nausea does not have to happen, though. Or if it does, it can be minimized when, surprisingly, consumers follow a handful of spending rules during the Holiday Season:
-- Use cash only when shopping. Leaving credit cards at home reduces impulse buys. It becomes harder to spend when you see the money dwindling away.
-- Carry only one credit card if necessary. Leaving home with a single credit card creates a debt ceiling when shopping. Carrying multiple cards significantly risks debt as you fail to resist purchasing gifts for yourself, relatives, friends and co-workers.
-- Comparatively search the internet for sales on a product you want. While the word “Sale” might be tempting, you might surprise yourself with a cheaper buy by looking at what other stores or companies are pricing a product, particularly high-end electronics.
One of the best ways to control your urges is to develop a spending plan, identifying the likely cost for presents, decorations and food.
Large families also can limit expenses by having gift exchanges. A family member pulls from a hat the name of another family member, Mom, Dad, brother or sister, niece or nephew, and that is the only person they are responsible for providing a gift at a holiday gathering.
Going on line does not have to be a spending adventure. Rather, ideas are available there too to make the holiday season survivable. The web site Pinterest can provide a treasure of inexpensive homemade holiday gifts or stocking stuffers.
Presentation of a gift or sentimentality can also be valuable without being costly. Finding a photo of long ago, when someone was much younger, and placed in a frame, can be greatly appreciated.
Ultimately, the season represents an exercise of self-control. Those willing to advance without planning, budgeting and buying need to keep only one question in mind: “Is it a need or want?” In many cases, people buy things that are not needed but spend the rest of the year paying it off.
(Layden Hale is a senior counseling advisor for Homeport. Netta Whitman is Homeport’s Assistant Director Learning & Engagement. Individuals interested in learning more about credit and budget counseling, or post-holiday financial fitness courses, can contact Homeport’s Learning & Engagement Department at 614-221-8889 extension 134.)