Sunday, December 11, 2011

Credit Cards and the Holidays: STOP!

It's that time of the year when you party, you enjoy, you give gifts, you celebrate and so much more.  You want to look nice at the office party, you want to give just the right gifts to the kids and relatives, and you want a night out on the town with that special someone - you deserve it, right?

All of this "festiving" costs money, and for many, it costs money they don't have.

When you don't have the money, you may be tempted to take out those charge cards, you use that overdraft protection on your checking account or you even borrow money.  The problem is that this time next year you are not even going to remember the outfit you charged or that special gift for mom, but you will remember that credit card bill that keeps coming and coming and coming each and every month with a huge interest rate a "upping" your balance.

So, if you want to give yourself a great gift this year, give yourself the gift of financial planning.  Take a breath, and articulate a goal.  Ask yourself for 2012, what do I want out of my finances?  The first answer should be, "get out of debt".  There are many, many professionals, such as myself, who provide an initial free consultation to address your financial problems.  Enjoy the holidays, but make an appointment for January 2012 with a professional to review how best you can get your finances in order.

Lesson Learned:  When my kids still believed in Santa (and that seems like too many years ago to count) I made a pact with my husband and friends and family:  I told them all that the only gifts I was going to give going forward were to my kids.  I wanted to focus on the holidays without worrying about a long list of gifts.  I came to this decision when I was fresh out of law school with two little kids and too few dollars and found that I was starting a Christmas lay-away (do they still have law-aways at stores? am I dating myself?) in July to make sure the kids and everyone in the family and circle of friends had a gift by December.  The first year or two after I made the decision to stop giving holiday gifts, I still had a few stragglers showing up with gifts, but I meant it.  After a while, the idea caught on and pretty much everyone in the group of friends and family enjoyed the fact that the pressure of gift giving was lifted.

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