5 Tips to Keep Your Credit Score Healthy this Holiday Season
🎁 The Holidays are Coming️...
The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and giving. It's also a time when many people tend to overspend. This can negatively impact your credit score which can make qualifying for financing in 2024 more difficult. However, with a little planning and discipline, you can enjoy the festivities without impacting your financial health.
Tip #1 - Don't Sign Up for New Credit Cards
One of the most common pitfalls during the holidays is succumbing to the allure of store-specific credit card offers. Retailers often entice shoppers with promises of discounts, rewards, or special financing - which can sound like a good idea - but signing up for new credit cards can have a detrimental impact on your credit score. Each time you apply for a new card, it results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can lower your score temporarily. Instead of opening new accounts, consider making purchases with your existing credit cards and stick to your budget.
Tip #2 - Don't Put All Purchases on One Credit Card
Diversifying your holiday spending across multiple credit cards can help you maintain a healthy credit utilization rate. Your credit utilization rate is the amount of credit you're using compared to your total credit limit. By spreading your purchases across multiple cards, you avoid maxing out any single card, which can negatively affect your credit score. This strategy ensures that no single card is heavily burdened, and your overall credit utilization stays in check.
Tip #3 - Pay Off Balances If You Can
If you're able, it's wise to pay off your credit card balances in full. Carrying a balance from month to month means you'll likely incur interest charges, which can add up quickly and burden your finances. By paying off your balances, you not only avoid interest but also demonstrate responsible credit management to credit reporting agencies, which can positively impact your credit score.
Tip #4 - Pay More Than Your Monthly Payment
If you can't pay off your balances in full, strive to pay more than the minimum monthly payment...even just $5. Paying only the minimum amount can lead to a cycle of debt, and your credit card balances may continue to grow. By paying more, you can reduce your debt faster and improve your credit score. Additionally, you'll save money on interest in the long run.
Tip #5 - Set a Budget and Start Saving Now
To keep your credit score healthy during the holiday season, planning is crucial. Create a detailed budget that outlines your usual expenses, and then list holiday items like gifts, travel, and entertainment. Rather than impulse buying, you'll have a clear idea of what you are comfortable spending before you ever step inside a store or go online.
You can also start saving right now for these expenses so you can avoid relying heavily on credit cards.
Here are a few ways you can save over the next few weeks.
Cut back on your non-essential food purchases - like coffee, fast food and take out. Saving just $20 per week will give you $140 by the time December hits.
Check your streaming services and monthly subscriptions - are you using them all? Cancelling them can start to add up in savings.
Do a closet clean out. Everyone is getting in the shopping mood right now so places like your local Facebook Marketplace, Mercari or eBay are going to be getting lots of traffic. Selling items that you aren't using can bring in some extra $ quickly plus you'll have less clutter which is stress reducing.
Start "shopping" early by looking at prices. Then pay attention to sales. Buy when an items is on sale rather than full price. This will save you from extra spending on impulse buying too.
When you have a budget and savings in place, you're less likely to overspend and accumulate debt. Won't it be nice to not dread those bills in January?
The holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate and show your appreciation for loved ones. Let's keep those good feelings by also keeping your financial well-being in mind. By following these five tips, and shopping with a clear focus, you'll feel empowered with a plan. Your credit score will thank you, and you'll start the new year on a financially sound footing.
And of course, you can always ask me questions at - Toni (at) toniryan.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Toni F. Ryan | NMLS#230507
Senior Loan Officer | Pinnacle Home Loans
Toni F. Ryan has over 25 years experience in mortgage lending - both on the wholesale and retail levels. She believes that education is key to making the best decision for YOU! She shares her insight into the lending world here and encourages your feedback. Don't forget to connect on Facebook - Instagram and TikTok