christmas credit card

Ah Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most expensive. And while it’s so easy to put everything on plastic in the lead in to the big day, piling debts can leave you with a serious financial headache by New Year’s.

Here are five tips to help you stay out of credit card trouble this Christmas. Follow this advice and you won’t have to spend the first half of 2017 in an Ebenezer Scrooge-like austerity plan.

1. Create a holiday shopping list

Impulse buys are the bane of any budget, so take these out of the equation by knowing what you need to get ahead of time. A thorough shopping list will give you more direction in the pre-Christmas rush and make you less likely to pick up something along the way (no matter how appealing those reindeer-antler headbands look).

2. Set a limit and stick to it

It certainly doesn’t feel like the time of year where you should be behaving like the Grinch, but you also shouldn’t feel bad about not spending more than you have capacity to. Before you buy anything, thinking about your holiday expenses (gifts, entertainment, travel etc.) and come up with a figure you’re not willing to go above.

3. Consider cashing in credit card rewards for gifts

If you’re no stranger to the plastic, turn the problem into the solution by cashing in your credit card rewards points for some gifts. You’ll be surprised at the sort of things you can pick up, and it’s an easy way to check a few boxes of your shopping list.

4. Avoid paying full price where possible

Bargains are out there, you’ve just got to know where to find them. Follow your favourite store on social media, sign up for price alerts and use comparison apps. Keeping your ear to the ground can score you some good deals on Christmas items.

5. If you feel like you’re in trouble, seek help

If you’ve tried the above measures and still feel as though you’re spending is getting a little out of hand it’s a good idea to seek help, and the earlier you do the better. Talk to your financial planner, and they may be able to offer you payment options.

Have you ever got yourself into credit debt around Christmas time? Were you able to get out of it? And if so how did you manage? Let us know in the comments.

This article is for general information only. You should seek formal financial advice on your specific circumstances.

Related links:

4 myths about financial planners busted

20 small ways to reduce your monthly spend

4 signs it’s time to change banks