1. Check your latest credit report before you do anything else
It’s always a good idea to stay on top on your credit health, especially if you’re about to spend big. Your credit report will show your current credit score, outstanding balances, missed payments and more, so you’ll be able to see what’s impacting your credit health and budget your spending better.
If you credit score is on the low side due to missed payments, you may wish to cut back on your spending. Use the money that you save to help you get current on your monthly payments instead.
2. Make a plan ahead of time
If you plan things in advance, you stand to save a lot of money. For instance, booking hotel rooms and flights early can get you amazingly low prices compared to the premium, last-minute rates. Also, do some research on which companies offer early-bird promotions and package deals. For instance, some airlines offer attractive accommodation plus flight packages if you book in advance.
If you plan to buy gifts for the festive season, start by making a list of all the things you need to get, as this will help curb impulse buying and keep you on track with your spending.
3. Keep holiday spending on one or two credit cards
When you spread your spending out over multiple cards, it can be easy to lose track of the total amount you’re spending—or to forget you charged something to a particular card altogether.
When the bills come after the holidays, you can end up with a very expensive holiday hangover. Instead, stick to one, maybe two, cards to keep track of your balances. If you have a partner and you don’t want them to see what you’ve bought, coordinate which cards you each will use.
4. Use reward balances to buy gifts
Spend a few minutes going through all your credit cards and airline miles rewards points. Look for cards where you might have small point balances. Maybe you have one that doesn’t have a lot of points—certainly not enough for a hotel reward or something else big. You could cash them in for gift cards or other small gifts that might come in handy for friends, co-workers or other people in your life.
5. Keep track of your spending
Because your holiday spending is out of the ordinary, it can be easy to forget how much you’re spending. Keep a list on your phone or in an old-fashioned notebook so you know how much money you’re putting toward holiday gifts.