Tis’ the Season: Ten Keys for financial Success During the Holiday season
- Spend Less Than You Earn. Keep a budget or spending plan and track your spending.
- Have a Plan. Get organized, write down your financial goals, know and track your expenses. Remember, if you do not have a plan, you are more likely not to reach a goal.
- Prepare for Expected Events. Save in advance for upcoming seasonal events. Holiday seasons will come and go but financial obligations will remain. Make sure your bills are paid on time. This will help to improve your credit score.
- Prepare for Unexpected Events. Due to seasonal and holiday excitement, it is easy to overspend. Make an effort to put some money aside if you have not already done so for emergencies. You never know what can happen suddenly such as job loss, sickness, etc.
- Always Know Your Interest Rates. Be aware of the purchase savings in exchange for a store credit card, if approved. This is where customers are offered a certain percentage such as 10% to 20% off their purchase in exchange to have their credit checked to see if they qualify for a store credit card. Keep in mind that each time an inquiry is made concerning your credit worthiness, your credit score drops by a few points whether approved or disapproved. If you are trying to build your credit, this would not be a wise decision. Never exceed 13% interest on loans and know what you pay on interest and fees. Know how your interest is being calculated.
- Keep a Healthy Credit Report. Don’t forget that you are entitled to a free annual credit report at annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228; or by mail: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
- Avoid Waste. Prepare your holiday meals instead of having them catered or eating out. Don’t purchase unnecessary items. Return gifts that you know you will not use or re-gift them.
- Take advantage of tax breaks. Tax season begins in every New Year. Most people have earned income credit they can claim. To save money, if you qualify (earn up to $54,000) try utilizing your local free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) in your county or a surrounding county.
- Fill in the Financial Gaps. If you are having financial difficulties, try having a garage sale, or sell excess produce at a Farmer’s Market. Another ideal is to barter goods and services without have to trade cash. Also, you can sell on eBay, recycle, or get a part-time job, etc.
- Give Back to Your Community. Feel free to donate. Some ideas for tax write offs are donating to the Alabama 4-H, Angel Tree, United Way, Salvation Army, Food Bank or any other non-profit organizations of your choice.
Plan to be Financially Successful
- Know where your money is going.
- Save for specific needs.
- Write down immediate, short term, intermediate and long term goals.
- Create a spending plan that works for you and track what you spend.
Start Saving Now to be Prepared
- Save lump sum payments / windfalls like tax refunds, gifts or inheritance.
- Be prepared for sudden illness, theft, natural disasters or the loss of your job.
- Have adequate Health, Car, Home, and Life Insurance.
Improve Your Credit Score
Your Credit Score is a number that indicates if you have good credit history. You can improve your Credit Score by paying your bills on time. Don’t apply for credit (cards) frequently. Pay off your balances each month.
Theresa Jones, Ed.S., Ph.D., CFEI
PPT Coordinator/Regional Extension Agent
Family Resource Management & Workforce Development
Source: Information adapted from Utah Saves and America Saves
For more information contact Dr. Theresa Jones, Regional Extension Agent at email@example.com or 256-509-5908 or visit http://www.AmericaSaves.org