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THE HOLIDAYS. FUN FOR YOU. NOT SO FUN FOR YOUR CREDIT SCORE.

     

The smell of pumpkin spice is in the air, which means the scent of peppermint is not far behind. With the holiday season rapidly approaching, now is the time to start swiping your credit cards and clicking those “Buy Now” buttons.

Take a look at these shocking stats surrounding spending this time of year...

Where do you fit in?

  • The average credit card debt consumers dig into during the holidays is approximately $1,054
  • 50% of consumers plan to pay off their gift-giving debt in fewer than three months
  • 29% of consumers plan to take more than five months to pay off their holiday debt
  • The percentage of Americans who do not budget for the holidays is 74%

These numbers are credit score killers. But don’t worry; you don’t have to be a statistic. There are steps you can take to help get you and your credit score holiday ready. Check out the game plan below.

Check Your Score.
First and foremost, it’s good to know where you stand. Not only that, but checking to make sure your score is blemish-free and consistent with your credit history is also important. Discovering fraud or a simple mistake is not uncommon this time of year.

Pay Down Your Debt.
The short-term pain of paying down your debt will equal long-term gains. No debt means no penalties or interest, and that looks good to creditors; it also means you can save money by not incurring extra charges.

Consider Increasing Your Limit.
You may not necessarily need to increase your limit but the closer you get to it, the more likely you are to negatively impact your credit score. According to credit.com, many experts recommend using less than 10% of your available credit to keep your credit score in good condition. Consider giving your creditor a call and ask about your options for an increase.

Make A Budget.
Last but not least, yes, the dreaded B word: Budget. It’s amazing what a little preplanning can actually do. Take the time to list all of those you’ll want or need to purchase presents for and determine how much you’re willing to spend. Once you tally the final amount, you can play with the numbers, so your budget for the holidays is right where you want it. Now, here’s the important part: once you have a budget, stick to it.

The holidays can be such a fun time of year but that’s not always true for your financials. Start with the game plan outlined above, kick-off the year on the right foot, and steer clear of becoming another statistic. Damaged credit scores can sometimes take up to a year to repair, and no one wants to get that dreaded credit card bill on Blue Monday* if they aren’t prepared for it.

*( The third Monday in January was coined Blue Monday in 2005, due to the fact that this is the approximate time when people are getting that first credit card bill that includes their holiday spending.)

Good luck and happy holiday spending!

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