4 Easy Ways To Avoid Holiday Credit Card Debt

When the holiday season has arrived, it is time to celebrate, be merry and have fun. Travel plans are made, gifts for family and friends have been listed and arrangements for parties are in full gear. 'Tis the season to be jolly, but it's also the season when spending runs amok.

4 Easy Ways To Avoid Holiday Credit Card Debt

Businesses usually depend on the holiday season to top off their annual sales and profits. They stock up, price up and hope to smile all the way to the bank. They know that people will be less frugal in their spending than at other times of the year. You may be among those who have suffered financial woes after the holiday season.  If so, you want to make sure it does not happen again. Your success depends on how well you control three crucial factors:

  1. Your rate of spending
  2. How you finance that spending
  3. The heavy financial burden that can follow

Financing With Plastic

Financing With PlasticWith the holidays coming around so quickly, people might find they have not saved enough for their needs. Anymore, budgeting has become an alien concept to most people and spending tends to spiral out of control.  Since most people don’t save and don’t have enough cash on hand, they will resort to credit cards to cover the shortfall. There are some advantages to using the card to finance your expenditure if you use them wisely:

i) It gives you free access to about a month’s credit.

ii) It gives you the temporary ability to spend beyond your current means.

iii) It allows you to track your expenditure.

iv) You do not have to carry lots of cash around with you.

On the other hand, using credit cards carry significant dangers if their use is not prudently managed. Research shows that spending can increase as much as 35% when using a credit card in lieu of cash. Use these easy tips to save you from running into trouble with credit card debt.

Plan Your Spending

1. Plan Your Spending

Forewarned is forearmed.  You should draw up your spending plan well in advance. If your spending is going to exceed your income for the holidays or any time of the year, consider trimming and containing yuletide expenditures to stay within your limits. That’s where a credit card comes to the rescue. It might not be obvious, but your credit card usage can upset the management of your finances. Unless you are watching your spending in both cash and credit closely, there is a danger that you will be lose track of whether or not you are living within your means. It is unwise to begin using your credit card if you do not have a spending plan to adhere to.  With a spending plan in place, you can remain in control of your finances.

2. Debt to Income Ratio

Be aware that use of a credit card adds to your indebtedness. When managing your finances, one of the important flags to keep an eye on is your debt-to-income ratio. The debt-to-income ratio is the monthly debt repayment as a percentage of your monthly after-tax income.  It raises a red flag when you incur too much debt. A ratio that is over 20% is skirting danger. If you already have credit card debt that is overdue, be sure not add to it.

Bridging Finance

3. Bridging Finance

Use of a credit card is ideally a means of short-term financing of your needs. That means settling any debt incurred using your card within a matter of days. Paying the minimum balance will not suffice. If you are not confident that you can pay it off entirely, you can do yourself a huge favor by not using a credit card. If you decide to use your credit card anyway, you will incur the extra costs in interest and penalties associated with extended credit. This adds to your expenses in a compounding fashion.  You must be ready to reduce other expenses to overcome these additional costs.  Otherwise, you run the risk of creating inescapable recurring debt.

4. Net Worth

Credit card debt incurred during the holiday season is usually for consumer spending.  Paying for your festivities, buying gifts and travel expenses creates consumer debt. This kind of debt adds to your liabilities, but contributes nothing to your assets. Your net worth is reduced by the amount of consumer debt incurred.  Shrinking your net worth is bad for your financial health.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, but be smart and finance it in a way that gives you the comfort that you won’t be buried in debt in the following months.

Interesting Holiday Stats

Santa Checking His List

Interesting Holiday Stats

Did you know the vast number of resources processed during the holiday season? Below are a few interesting statistics regarding the number of cards and gifts sent, party food eaten, and more.

Holiday Shopping

Holiday sales are expected to hit $439.53 billion this year. December accounts for roughly 15% of stores’ yearly sales, with the exception of jewelry stores for which it is closer to 24%. Most Americans only expect to spend an average of $854 each this holiday reason. On Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday 2013, approximately $12.3 billion was spent.  The new experiment of opening shops on Thanksgiving rather than waiting until midnight on Black Friday resulted in lower percentage of sales on the infamous shopping holiday. Residents of the New England states are anticipated to spend more than the rest of the country, while the South is expected to spend the least overall.

Christmas Cards

Do you enjoy receiving lots of cards in the mail? There are roughly 1.6 billion Christmas cards sent in the United States every year to friends, family members and acquaintances. This makes Christmas the #1 card sending occasion, followed by Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.  The greeting card manufacturers are being heavily impacted by the prevalence of free, instant options available online.

Presents

The number UPS is expected to deliver this year is over 340 million. The busiest day for UPS in the 2013 holiday season was Monday, December 16th when they reached 34 million deliveries, which translates to 394 packages being delivered every second during that day.  FedEx’s busiest day was 22 million deliveries on Monday, December 2nd.

Toys

About 45% of shoppers will be purchasing toys this year, with video games and Barbie being the products most sought after.  California leads the nation in toy production with 10 locations that produce dolls and stuffed animals as well as 88 locations that produce games, children’s vehicles and other toys.

Party food

Are you tired of turkey once Christmas is over? This may be why. The USDA  approximates that there are more than 244 million turkeys raised in the United States with as many as 60 million making it to the table through the holiday season. Americans eat an average of 13.7 pounds of turkey every year! I know I do my share of compensating for the vegetarians among us.  It is also reported that 7.3 billion shrimp are consumed at as many as 46 million holiday gatherings.  According to a Reader’s Digest poll, the favorite Christmas cookie in Pennsylvania is the Pizzelle and the national favorite is the Sugar Cookie.  I certainly enjoy both, but I definitely have a soft spot for a warm chocolate chip cookie.

Decorating

Most malls and other stores begin decorating for the holiday season on November 1st, but as many as 40% begin well before Halloween to get ready for early-bird shoppers.  Shopping centers spend an average of $22,998 on their holiday decorations.  Many retailers begin receiving deliveries of holiday decor in June or July and begin closing out their summer and gardening stock to make way for the yuletide supplies.  You know I love Christmas all year long, but let’s at least wait until after Labor Day!

Christmas Trees

If it is your practice to go chop down a tree and lug it home, check this out. There are 20.8 million Christmas trees cut in the U.S. every year, with the most (over 25%) coming from Oregon. Tree farmers reap roughly $506 million from this tradition. There are $69 million in artificial trees imported from China each year. Artificial Christmas trees have outsold real ones annually since 1991.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

China is the largest producer of Christmas ornaments which totals $592 million from January through August. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are around 250 injuries per day from decorating accidents and Christmas tree fires.

Holiday Music

The holiday song most frequently played is “Jingle Bells”. Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” runs a close second, but it is the #1 best selling Christmas single of all time.

An Interview With Mrs. Claus – December 2013

An Interview With Mrs. Claus – December 2013

I had an opportunity to chat with Mrs. Claus about matters pertaining to the red suit.  She, like her legendary husband, is a figure of note and importance to both the holiday and the business of being Santa.

History

Mrs Claus gave us an overview of the history of Santa and his place in modern society.  From the days of St Nicholas on through to the pop culture figure who has been evolving since the mid-19th Century, Santa has been a lot of different things to a lot of people.  Above all, he is a spirit of generosity.

Partnership

Mrs Claus explains how a professional Santa can benefit from having a Mrs Claus to bolster the business.  Mrs Claus can bring her own type of joy to the holiday and is particularly good with little ones who often shy away from Santa for pictures.  Mrs Claus can even help to stage pictures with Santa more effectively through loving partnership.  As they say, the more the merrier!  Santa may not be able to be two places at once, but with a properly trained and outfitted Mrs Claus in the endeavor they definitely can.  More appearances means more cheer, more goodwill and more opportunity for bookings at more places.  For those interested in becoming a professional Santa or Mrs Claus, there are schools such as the School 4 Santas by Tim Connaghan that are provided nationwide and the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan.  Along with the schools, a professional Santa couple can enjoy regional and national conferences and social events of all kinds for networking and new techniques.

Thank you, Mrs. Claus for sharing your time and wisdom with us!  Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Happy St Patrick’s Day 2014

 

Happy St Patrick’s Day 2014

Well, there are only 282 shopping days left until Christmas this year.  Have you started planning? Well, you may very well say it’s not even done being winter and we have to think about that?

YES!!!

C’mon, y’all.  It’s Christmas All The Time at this here site!  We’re excited about Christmas every day of the year.

That being said, as we push forward to Springtime, there’s something my wife really looks forward to and that’s gardening. Hoe, hoe, hoe! Let’s get out there and plant some flowers that will be every bit as grand and decorous as any Christmas Tree.  We can be festive all year long if we let our hearts be light and keep the Spirit of Christmas alive.