Santa Checks His List Twice - Do You Check Yours Twice?

We're in the midst of the holiday season, which means it's a time when you're buying gifts for family, friends, and coworkers.

Now, some people go shopping with their credit card in hand and an open mind - willing to buy anything they see for a loved one. While that can be fun, it can also be expensive... And, unfortunately, it can be harmful to your credit.

If you want to make better decisions this holiday season - decisions that will help your credit in 2017 and not hurt it - then steal an idea from Santa: make a list, check it twice... and do your shopping from that list.

Start with a credit-friendly budget. While it's nice to spend money on loved ones this year, you shouldn't do it so much that you end up hurting your credit for the entire year next year. Instead, figure out what you can afford, and what you can fully pay back by January, and make that your budget.

Next, make a list of everyone you want to shop for. Then, go online and come up with some preliminary ideas of what you should buy for them. (Hint: this can be a lot of fun while also eliminating the temptations that come with doing this in a store!) This is the list you should check twice! After all, you don't want to miss anybody.

You may need to make some adjustments because sometimes the things you want to buy will cost more than your credit-friendly budget. That's okay... it's better to find a suitable alternative than to sacrifice your credit. While you're at it, figure out where to make these purchases so you're not wasting time and fuel driving from store to store.

Next, organize your shopping trips to the mall. This is an important step because, if you don't, you could end up spending extra money on fuel or on food while you shop, or even impulse items that you don't really need to spend. One or two highly-focused trips will not only make you more efficient but you'll have so much more time for holiday festivities!

Don't forget to save all of your credit card receipts. This is so important for a couple of reasons: first, you'll want to be able to return items if they don't fit; but also, saving your credit card receipts allows you to review all purchases on your credit card statement when it comes in the mail in January. This way, you can easily see which purchases you did make versus what might have been a mistake on the store's part (which you can get reversed to help protect your credit.)

The holiday season can be so much fun, and gift giving is such a big part of that. However, if you want to protect your credit, then make sure you do what Santa does - and check that list twice!