As the holiday season approaches, many of us start preparing for the shopping frenzy that accompanies it. According to a recent Deloitte consumer survey, Americans are expecting to spend an average of $1,652 this holiday season on gifts, a 14% increase since last year. While hunting for the perfect gifts for your loved ones’ gifts can be fun, it’s essential to use caution if you plan on using credit cards to foot the bill.
As your trusted financial partner, our team here at TFNB Your Bank for Life wants to offer our expert opinion on the best practices for managing credit card shopping for the holiday season. In this article, our team weighs in on budgeting, cybersecurity, and avoiding credit card debt during the holiday season.
Budgeting Tips for Holiday Shopping
Holiday shopping can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to managing your finances. Everywhere you look, there’s the temptation to add just one little more item to the shopping list. Sadly, many consumers find themselves in a lurch come January when the credit card bills start coming due for the excess spent in December. In fact, according to a LendingTree survey, 36% of consumers accumulated holiday debt during that season, with an average of $1,249, encompassing expenses like gifts, travel, and entertainment. That’s why it’s important to set a budget and stick to it. Here are some budgeting tips to help you make the most of your holiday shopping:
- Start with a plan: Before you start shopping, make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for, and set a budget for each person. This will help you avoid overspending and ensure that everyone receives a thoughtful gift.
- Compare prices: Don’t just settle for the first item you see. Take the time to shop around and compare prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal. One deal-tracking app our team at TFNB enjoys using is the PayPal Honey app which searches the internet for the best deals, promo codes and coupons — all to save you the most money.
- Use coupons and promo codes: Look for coupons and promo codes online before making a purchase. This can help you save money and stay within your budget.
- Track your expenses: Keep track of your spending to ensure you’re sticking to your budget. You can use a spreadsheet, a budgeting app like Mint, or even a simple notepad to keep track of your expenses.
- Consider alternative options: If you’re on a tight budget, consider alternative gift options, like homemade gifts or experiential gifts. These can be just as meaningful and often cost less than traditional gifts. By following these budgeting tips and staying within your means, you can enjoy the holiday season without worrying about your finances. For more personal finance and financial planning advice, visit TFNB Your Bank for Life’s website.
Cybersecurity Measures for Safe Online Shopping
Shopping online has become a common practice, especially during the holiday season when busy schedules and large crowds can make in-store shopping less appealing. Not too long ago, we delved into the topic of five ways you can safeguard your financial information both at home and while traveling in this cybersecurity blog. Here’s a condensed version of key cybersecurity measures to ensure a safe and secure holiday shopping experience:
- Use a secure website: Before making a purchase, ensure that the website is secure by checking for a padlock icon in the address bar, and that the website address begins with “https.” Also, it’s wise to make sure that “good deal” you see for the holidays is coming from a reputable company backed by positive consumer reviews. Too many people have been scammed by a too-good-to-be-true deal only to be conned by an unreliable source. Know who you’re shopping with before you buy.
- Update your software: Keep your operating system, web browser, and antivirus software up-to-date, as outdated software can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
- Create strong passwords: Use complex passwords that include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.
- Be cautious with emails: Be wary of unsolicited emails and attachments, as they could contain phishing scams or malware. Only open emails and attachments from trusted sources.
- Review your credit card statements: Regularly review your credit card statements to ensure there are no fraudulent charges.
TFNB Your Bank for Life's Commitment to Cybersecurity
At TFNB Your Bank for Life, we take cybersecurity seriously. We provide our customers with a secure online banking platform that is regularly monitored and updated to prevent cyber threats. We also offer additional security features such as two-factor authentication and fraud alerts to protect our customers’ personal and financial information. For more information regarding cybersecurity, online banking scams, and how to stop fraudsters in their tracks this holiday season, arm yourself with the gift of knowledge by visiting our TFNB Knowledge Center.
Avoiding the January Blues of Credit Card Debt
As the holiday season comes to an end, it’s important to take a proactive approach to your credit card debt. The last thing you want is to start the new year with a financial burden that can take months or even years to pay off. Fortunately, with the right strategies and tools, you can avoid credit card debt and maintain a healthy financial outlook.
Manage Your Credit Card Balances
The first step in avoiding credit card debt is to manage your credit card balances. Make sure to keep your balances low and avoid overspending. One effective strategy is to pay off your credit card balance in full each month. This will not only help you avoid accruing interest charges but also ensure that you are not carrying a balance from month to month.
Pay Off Debt Quickly
If you do find yourself with credit card debt, it’s important to develop a plan to pay it off as soon as possible. One effective strategy is to pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first. This will not only save you money in interest charges but also free up more funds to pay off other debts. Another strategy is to make larger than the minimum payments each month to accelerate your debt payoff timeline.
Pick Up a Side Gig for Extra Holiday Cash
One way to avoid credit card debt altogether is to explore alternative solutions such as picking up a side gig to earn extra cash. Side gigs, like tutoring, dog-walking, or selling unwanted items online with apps like Mercari or through your local Facebook groups, can provide an additional income stream. This extra cash can help cover holiday expenses such as gifts, travel, and special treats without straining your regular budget. It’s a proactive approach to managing holiday spending while maintaining financial stability, ensuring you can celebrate and give generously without accumulating unnecessary debt. Whether it’s driving for a ride-sharing service or selling items you no longer use, a side gig can add a little extra revenue to your holiday budget.
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The holidays are upon us, and we’d love to help you wrap up your shopping with a secure TFNB Visa card that pays you back with rewards. Our friendly bankers can help you find the card that’s right for you — each one with its own special benefits.
Contact us today to learn more about credit cards and personal banking.