It may seem hard to believe, but there are now less than two weeks left in the holiday shopping season, meaning stores — both brick and mortar and online — will be slowly but steadily increasing their prices in an attempt to capitalize on the desperation of last minute shoppers.
As we started discussing a few weeks back, however, it’s important for all consumers — regardless of how much shopping they have left to do — to be mindful of their spending habits, especially if they plan to use credit cards.
In today’s post, our final entry in this series, we’ll continue to explore some common credit card mistakes made during the holiday season and what consumers can do to help ensure they stay in the black long after the decorations are put back into storage.
Don’t underestimate revolving debt
While most consumers are all too aware of the dangers of revolving debt, meaning the carrying of a credit card balance, there is nevertheless a tendency to ignore this awareness during the month of December. Indeed, people might tell themselves that they’re just “getting in the holiday spirit” or that they’ll “pay it all off next month” when the purchases start to pile up.
This isn’t necessarily a problem if the person does indeed pay off the balance in one fell swoop. However, if something comes up and they aren’t able to do this and continue to add to their debt load in the ensuing months, the interest can rapidly add up and the monthly payments can skyrocket.
In sum, proceed with caution when using credit cards to make holiday purchases.
Don’t focus too much on rewards
While everyone loves earning rewards on their credit cards — from cash back to airline miles — experts urge consumers not to make this their primary reason for making plastic their de facto payment method.
That’s because unless credit card debt is paid off in a timely fashion, any benefits realized through credit card use will be rapidly and resoundingly offset by the ravages of revolving debt.
Always remember to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options as they relate to personal bankruptcy if credit card debt has simply become insurmountable despite your best efforts.