The first big holiday shopping surge is over, but an Iowa credit counselor says another is on the way and it’s time now to plan to avoid getting too deep in debt for the new year. Karen Atwood, C.E.O. of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northeastern Iowa, says you shouldn’t be caught up in the sales hype.
Atwood says the next big sales push will come about 10 days before Christmas, when really big sales will come. She says if you’ve already spent your limit, "it’s time to forget the stores, forget the malls, wrap it up and stay at home." If you hit the post-Thanksgiving sales, Atwood says now is the time to step back and make a budget so you don’t get overextended.
Atwood says you should take a look at how much money you will be receiving between now and the 20th of December. Then look at how much you’ll need for food, gas, rent and other things and determine how much you have left over for Christmas. Also, Atwood says look at how much you plan to charge on a credit card and how long you plan to take to pay that money off. Attwood says people often get caught up in trying to please everyone they know by buying them gifts, but she says you don’t have to do that.
"No I don’t think we have to buy for everybody, but I do think we have to care for everybody." Atwood says. You can let people know you love them and care about them without buying them something, or you can make them a gift, such as cooking them some goodies. While some are speculating the mortgage crisis will put some people in a bind this year — Atwood says higher gas prices are more likely the culprit.
Atwood says people used to be able to fill up with gas for 10 dollars, but now that same money won’t get you through the week. Atwood says people are going to have to spend less to just be able to make rent payments and buy food to get through the month. Atwood says if you do some budgeting and find that you have already overspent, there’s nothing wrong in taking a present back and finding an alternative to an expensive gift.