Boxing Day. It was once a day when the wealthy people would give a "Christmas box" to their servants. Today, we often just think of it as a day when we're surrounded by empty gift boxes, or when you have to run to the store to return unwanted gifts. It's also become a week-long shopping event with stores offering "Boxing Week Sales" to entice shoppers.
For many people, the end-of-the-year prices are so attractive, and it's a great time to buy all the things you didn't get for Christmas. Unfortunately, for people with unhealthy credit, it can be a difficult time of year that could erase any gains you've made in your credit.
Here are some tips to help you survive Boxing Day if you suffer from bad or unhealthy credit.
• Just because something is on special doesn't mean you should buy it. Remember: if you pay for it with your credit card, then fail to pay your credit card off right away, that lower "on special" purchase will suddenly cost a lot more... and more and more each month until you pay it off.
• If you are going to take advantage of the sales, set a strict budget and stick to it, and perhaps even pre-plan which stores you will visit - if for no other reason than to make sure you can pay off your credit card bill when it arrives next month! If you're worried about whether you'll be able to stick to your credit-friendly budget then bring cash instead and spend only the cash you have.
• Even if you think you're being "credit savvy" by making on-sale purchases, consider whether the item is something you need, and don't forget to add up the other purchases you make - from the gas you spend to get to the store, to the restaurant food you eat while you're shopping. There's nothing wrong with making these purchases but they can all risk your credit if you're not careful.
• When you go out, limit the number of credit cards and identification that you bring. Bring only what you need and then, when you get home, check to make sure you still have it. Holiday crowds are a magnet to less-desirable people who will take advantage of the busy shopping season to steal identities (and ultimately ruin your credit for their gain.)
• Save the receipts of all of your purchases so that, when your credit card bill comes, you can compare your purchases to the bill - to ensure accuracy and that you weren't mistakenly charged for a purchase you never made.
The days leading up to Christmas are often thought to be the big shopping time as everyone buys gifts. However, the days after Christmas are also a huge shopping season as everyone rushes to the stores to get great deals.
There's nothing wrong with getting great deals when they're available - that's a credit-smart approach to shopping! However, it's important to always make your purchases with the big credit picture in mind, to ensure that you keep your credit strong.