Don't Let Holiday FOMO Drive You Into Debt
Most of us start out holiday shopping with the best of intentions. We make a list, set a budget, scope out sales and get off to a successful start.
As we get closer to the big day, however, we start making rash purchases, often driven by our kids’ FOMO—Fear of Missing Out—-over not getting some of the gifts they want. This is when we hit the credit cards and the debt starts to climb.
According to Jeff Dixson (www.nwfts.net), a financial educator and author of “Winning The Retirement Game,” chronic overspending of money we don’t really have can torpedo a family budget, not to mention a retirement plan. He offers these four tips to help keep holiday shopping in line so we can stave off debt:
1. Look at the big picture. Credit card use means putting off paying for something you didn’t have the money for in the first place. So forecast what that mounting credit card bill will add to your regular monthly expenses, and let that act as a deterrent.
2. Use one card. If you must use a credit card, Dixson says to put the rest of your cards aside and use the one with the lowest interest rate. This also makes it easier to track your spending.
3. Make a real budget. While it may be too late to salvage this year’s holiday budget, put the following into effect for next year: Figure out what you can afford to spend (for example, $600 = $50 per month) and set this aside each month in order to have that money available when holiday shopping season rolls around. The trick is sticking to that amount while you’re out shopping.
4. Make it a teaching moment. The holidays are a great time to teach your kids about money, a lesson that could last a lifetime. Most families have budgets, and part of being responsible means not over-spending. “The greater good of the family is served rather than immediate gratification,” Dixson says. “They’ll learn something meaningful about money, appreciation and responsibility that will stay with them when they have families of their own.”