How To Play Your Cards Right And Reduce Your Debts This Christmas
It’s estimated that shoppers will put £23bn on debit and credit cards this Christmas, but how do you know if you’re getting the best deal. So many Banks offer so many different things that it’s often hard to see the wood through the trees.
With studies suggesting that countless people are still paying off their Christmas debts ten months after Christmas, you want to make sure you get this right. You have to be careful, because if used incorrectly, the extra spending could not only put you deeper in debt, but also put you at risk of being rejected for credit in the future. Don’t worry though, this guide to managing your money and reducing your debts over Christmas might just help you out.
Play Your Cards Right
If you’re going to borrow money this Christmas then it’s important that you play your cards right. Many banks are offering interest free credit at the moment. Currently Halifax has the longest interest free period that comes with their credit card. It charges 0% interest for the first twenty months before jumping up to a fairly hefty 18.9% APR. Next up is the Tesco Credit Card, this card is interest free for the first nineteen months, it also allowd you to earn clubcard points every time you use your credit card. Another alternative is the Sainsburys Credit Card, which is comes entirely devoid of interest for eighteen months. All of these cards will revert back to 18.9% after the given time periods.
Watch Your Spending
When you get a credit card, it’s very easy to go crazy and put everything on there, and because you can’t physically see the money leaving your hand, you have no idea how much you’re spending – especially if you have multiple cards. To really reduce your debts you must set a budget and stick to it. Keep a record of money you have coming in (from things like your wages, pensions or benefits) and payments that you make (such as your rent or mortgage, living expenses, and then your Christmas expenses on top of that). Otherwise, the amount you spend can easily creep up on you, and could mean that you either have to ask for more money (and get yourself into more debt), or decide on which family member gets the socks.
Being a tech based website we know of a few apps and websites that could help you out: Mint.com is a website that imports your financial data from your bank account and automatically categorizes purchases into groups such as “Bills & Utilities” and “Food & Dining”. You can view charts so you can see your spending trends, and it can also recommend a credit card based on your finances.
Alternatively, the award winning iphone app, Ixpense enables you to track your personal cash-flow with a clear budget. It also gives you alerts when you’re getting too close for comfort.
When you’re searching for a specific item, or even if you find the perfect gift, it’s so easy to just buy it straight away even if it costs more than you were willing to pay.
However, we can’t express enough, the importance of shopping around. Nine times out of ten you will probably find the same item cheaper somewhere else, and if you do this with everything you buy, you could end up saving a small fortune.
There are so many price-comparison apps made especially for this – apps like Pricespy, shopsavvy and Buyvia are available on itunes or in the playstore. Thefind is also a really useful app, as if you find an item and want to compare its price, you can just scan the barcode and it will find comparisons, but only from stores that are nearby. Vouchercloud is also a great app to have on you while you’re shopping. It has vouchers for thousands of stores, restaurants and travel. So before you get that card out, check vouchercloud first.
Make Regular Payments, On Time
When you’re all spent out, you need to start repaying you’re debts as soon as possible. When repaying, always make regular payments, and make sure they’re on time. It’s always useful to create direct debits to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines. A useful app for this is Check, as it keeps track of when bills are due and helps you avoid those nasty late fines.
Also, if possible it’s a good idea to pay more than the minimum amount, especially if your card isn’t interest free. If you just pay the minimum each month, it could take you double the amount of time to pay it off and end up costing you more in the long run.
All of the apps discussed are available on itunes or in the playstore.