Spend wisely this holiday season

by Airman 1st Class Andrea Posey
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

The holidays are fast approaching, and for many this may lead to overspending – a common occurrence among Airmen.

The average family charges around $1,500 on credit cards during this time of the year. Consider this, if your credit card company charges a 14-percent interest rate and you pay only the minimum amount each month, it will take you eight years and cost over $1,000 in interest to pay it off.

The following tips can help Airmen to avoid overspending so they can enjoy the holidays without debt.

· Save throughout the year: Many banks have special savings accounts, called “Christmas Clubs”, you can contribute monthly allotments into to save for the holidays.

· Plan holiday spending: Create a written plan with spending limits for each gift, or draw names with friends and family and only buy a gift for one person.

· Avoid shipping charges: Plan for an additional $10 for gifts bought online to cover shipping costs so you don’t exceed your spending limit. Watch for specials that offer free shipping, or buy a gift card instead.

· Shop year-end sales: Shop after-Christmas deals and put the gift away for next year.

· Portion the holidays: Gift purchases should be portioned by what can be afforded, by cash, check or debit card. Aviod using credit.

· Consider layaway: Many stores offer layaway plans with little-to-no fees. Put gifts on layaway three to four months ahead and make payments over time instead of all at once. Be sure to make layaway payments on time.

· Personalize the holidays: Put thought into your gifts and consider making something instead of buying. Gifts like baked goods, handmade ornaments or pictures in nice frames offer a personal touch.

The holidays are a time to enjoy family and friends. You’ll be able to enjoy it more knowing you won’t be haunted by bills long into the new year.