Retailers started displaying decorated Christmas trees before school even began this year, and they haven't let up a bit. Christmas carols filled the aisles before Halloween, and Black Friday now begins on Thanksgiving Eve! With all the special markdowns catching your eye, how can you hope to budget for your gift buying and stick to it?
Use a Pagemonth Home Budget, available free at the bottom of our home page, to get a good sense of what you can afford to spend this year. At the bottom of our middle totals columns on each page you can see your end balance for each month as well as all others through December, to the nearest dollar, continuously updated automatically by your income and expense changes.. The bottom month totals will show you how much you will have in your checking account on December 31. If it is an amount you can accept, even after you plug in the amounts you intend to spend for holiday buying, try to aim for that number with your purchases.
But chances are good you (and I) will both succumb to the specials and bargains and markdowns between now and then, and use our debit cards when we run out of cash in the store, or if our balance drops below what we can accept without penalty, and use our charge cards to delay paying the extra debt till January or February of next year, thus fooling ouselves into believing it will be easier to pay things off then.
Instead, use your Pagemonth Home Budget to enter those charges the day you purchase them, so you can see what those totals will do to your Visa and Mastercard payments in January and February, 2014. If you are still comfortable with your numbers, then Merry Christmas! You have planned well.. But if you see next year's charges generating debts you realize you can't pay off in full by early 2014, you aren't going to have quite as much Christmas cheer to celebrate, because your credit buying will be generating as much as 18%-21% revolving interest per month on any unpaid balance you carried forward!
Enjoy the holidays fully this year. Plan your buying then stick to your plan, You'll be grateful you did heading into next year.