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Tips for saving for consumers this holiday season

Published 3:21pm Tuesday, December 7, 2010

By STANTON DAVIS/Guest Columnist

The biggest budget buster of the year is fast approaching — Christmas.

Consumers are busy making their holiday lists and crunching numbers.

At a time when counting pennies is once again fashionable, there are several savings tips to live by this holiday shopping season.

Shop with cash. It’s a basic rule. If you don’t have the money for it, then don’t buy it. Using a credit card can quickly result in debt.

One way to save for Christmas is by opening a Christmas Club at your credit union.

Save throughout the year, so when the holidays roll around, you have a readily available fund designed solely for gift giving.

If you do shop with credit, pick a card with benefits, little to no fees, and the lowest rate available. Avoid department store or retail cards.

They typically offer an initial discount on your purchases, which sounds good at the time, but in the end may cost you more thanks to higher rates and fees.

Apply for a holiday loan from your local credit union.

Only go this route if the loan offers a better rate than your credit card or if you are unable to get approved for a low rate credit card.

Refinance your car to a lower rate.

By doing so, you will save money each month, giving you a little more to spend for the holidays.

In some cases, you may even be able to defer your first payment for a month, padding your wallet more for the season.

Consider a home equity line of credit.

Use the equity in your home to afford Christmas. The rate may be lower than a credit card or holiday loan, making it a better option.

The smartest tip I can give to holiday shoppers is to remember the holidays are once a year, so shop smart to avoid a lifetime of debt. You have financial options.

For more holiday savings tips from Alabama Telco Credit Union, visit Alatelco.org.

Stanton Davis is vice president of marketing at Alabama Telco Credit Union. You can reach him at 1-800-24TELCO.

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