It’s appropriate to talk about the Holiday Debt Monster today.

By no means am I a financial guru. But I used to be a credit card queen! Whoa! Anyone relate? Charge ‘em up, buy stuff for others, buy stuff for ourselves, justify purchases for the time of year, or worse yet, for our mood? The euphoria of all that purchasing fizzles out really quick. Maybe the same day. Maybe in 30 days when the bill comes. But it DOES fizzle out.

Being left with a debt monster on our back is no bueno. It’s heavy, man! I dunno about you, but my strong “shopper’s arm” has nothing on the weight of that sucker. Whoa!

Yes, it feels good to give. It feels good to treat ourselves. It feels free to charge up on a freshly paid down credit card. However, the true joy of giving comes from the heart, not a piece of plastic that has the potential of draining you in more ways than one.

Here are a few tips to send that monster packin’:

1) Type up a budget. Once we “see” where all the money goes, it’s much easier to make changes. Place all the necessities first (house payment, insurance, etc.) If you can, set aside at least 10% for savings (it’s been said, that we should all have 8 months salary saved for emergencies!) If you can include some “fun” money great. If not, it won’t be long til you can. Buckle down on paying debt & saving up that emergency fund. Soon you’ll have some wiggle room.

2) If you have credit card debt, add a bit extra to the payments you make per month. Even if it’s $5 or $10 right now. Pay the most to the card with the highest interest rate. Then, once that one is paid off, utilize the payment amount you had budgeted for that one and add that amount to a different card’s payment. Watch those balances drop! WOOT!

3) Put as many bills on AutoPay as possible. You can select and change the payment amount whenever you’d like. The important note with this is, once you set it, it happens like clockwork. No late fees, and the debt goes down while you go on about life. Just don’t charge up those cards further. Cut them up or lock them up.

4) Credit is a necessary part of living. Debt is not. Credit cards are best used when you can afford to pay the entire balance off every month. This is the goal.

During gift giving times:

1) If you have some extra cash, use only that. Leave the credit cards at home.

2) Send a greeting card. You can make a beautiful card rather than buy one. Send an e-card.

3) Start a holiday/birthday account that you contribute to each month. This time next year you’ll be prepared with cash!

4) Make a phone call, or visit loved ones, in lieu of a store-bought gift. Your time, hugs, and love are worth more than any material item. Memories are made of those.

It’s my wish for us all that we enjoy each day to the fullest. Live stress-free. Get rid of the debt monster. Spread love, joy, and gratitude. The greatest gifts ever.

Wishing you the best of the season, and abundant blessings for the New Year!

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