Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are right around the corner and that means time to get started on the gift giving. Well at least making the purchases. Unfortunately, the gift giving can come with a little bit of debt too. Ideally you want to budget for the holidays but bills come up, things need to be bought and before you know it, your holiday budget isn’t a thing. Just because the budget isn’t there, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a beautiful holiday season with your loved ones, it simply means you need to find other ways to make it happen.
Option A… Option B… Option C ?
When it comes to holiday shopping and getting gifts for your family and friends, there are many ways you can go about paying for those gifts. You can use cash, write a check, use a debit card, get a credit card or do layaway. Yes, I said there were many options.
But what is truly the best option for you? That depends.
Option A: Cash, Debit, Check
When shopping using cash/debit/check is always ideal. This way you don’t have to worry about getting hit with a bill later on and you know that you made your purchases free and clear. However when using cash you might be limiting yourself to the purchases you can make, the amount of gifts you can give and even the time frame you can buy gifts. You might miss a sale because it’s not your pay week or you might find that you’re at the cash register with a declined debit card before you forgot to transfer money.
Cash is great but like everything else, there are some things to be careful of.
Option B: Credit
This option is very practical. You can designate one card to holiday shopping or take advantage of a new offer for a credit card and open an account for the holidays. You will be given a limit and you can monitor that limit. A credit card will allow you to avoid being declined at the counter, for the most part, and will give you a little more flexibility. You don’t have to stress too much about pay week and you can really cash in on some great sales too! Plus with a rewards card like TFCU’s MasterCard Platinum Rewards, you can cash in on some rewards points as well. Who doesn’t like to get money back from shopping?
But there are a few downfalls. You have to be able to pay your credit card bill, so you will still need the cash option. And if you can’t pay the bill, you’re going to pay interest and depending on your Credit Card the gifts could turn out to be more expensive than you planned.
Option C: Layaway
Yes, layaway has been brought back to several stores. And is another great option when it comes to holiday shopping. It allows a customer to make payments on an item they want. The store holds it in a secure place and the customer makes weekly or even monthly payments on the item. Once the payments are made, they are the official owner of an awesome item.
This is great for the shopper who might not have the money for an item that is popular and quickly flying off the shelves. They can put it on layaway and make their payments. Another plus is the store keeps the item, therefore less chance of your children snooping around and finding it.
But like the other options there are cons to this method of paying, too. For instance the store might charge you a service fee. So a $50 item might really be $60 because of the $10 service fee. It will also require that you give a down payment which can be hard to do if you are struggling financially at the moment. Oh and there are strict payment plans with layaway too. And if you don’t pay guess what, you might lose the item.
So there you have it, several options, but be sure you are informed when it comes to the holiday season so that you make the best financial decision for you and your family. Enjoy that holiday shopping!