Holiday Survival Checklist

The holiday shopping season is upon us (earlier than ever, of course!) and for those of us mindful of our credit and finances it can be a tricky and difficult season, unless you have a good solid plan before you hit the stores. Here are my best tips for surviving the season with your credit and finances intact.

1. Make the best of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
To find great deals and save money on your shopping you need to be organized. Have your list of gifts to buy and a written holiday budget. Then, when Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals come around you'll know exactly what you're looking for and be able to capitalize on the deals, stretching your gift-giving dollars even further.

2. Pull out your store cards. Shop in the stores you have store cards for because often they offer coupons and extra deals to cardholders. Use your credit cards that offer reward points, which you may be able to redeem for gift cards, which also make great gifts. Remember to keep your receipts, record the purchases in your budget and make sure you pay the bill on time, especially for cards you rarely use.

3. Shop Local on Small Business Saturday.
The Saturday following Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday, which is a great chance to get some holiday deals by shopping local. Take the chance to enjoy the season walking around your town and discovering unique retailers. Hate to wrap presents? Many local retailers offer gift wrapping services, another good money and time saver you get by shopping local.

4. Think about the New Year. It's easy to forget during November and December that the New Year is right around the corner. Do you want to start the New Year with extra debt? If not, buy gifts you can afford. No one you're buying for wants a gift if you need to go into debt for.

5. Review your statements.
Make sure during the busy holiday season you not only check your statements once, but twice to confirm they are all correct. Keep your receipts so you have proof of your purchases. Even if it is a $2.00 fee you do not remember, take the time to figure it out or call the bank or creditor. The holidays are prime time for theft and fraud.

6. Keep paying all your bills on time. Take time to take care of business, even during the holiday hustle and bustle. Remember, by staying on top of your bills and your budget you will feel good and organized to fully enjoy the season.

7. Plan now your review of credit reports. The beginning of the year is a great time to get your credit reports and examine them for any errors. So, put it on your New Year's task list now.

Cheers to a joyous holiday season!