Prevent a Holiday Spending Hangover

Black Friday doesn’t have to lead to black marks on your credit report

Bank of American Fork is kicking off the 2012 holiday shopping season with tips to manage holiday spending and avoid a post-holiday credit hangover.

“Consumers spreading holiday cheer should keep in mind that January bills are only a couple of months away,” says Richard Beard, president and CEO of Bank of American Fork. “If consumers are not budgeting for their holiday purchases, people will find themselves ringing in the New Year with last year’s debt.”

Bank of American Fork recommends that customers manage their finances this holiday season with the following spending tips:

Create a budget and stick to it. Set a dollar amount based on what you can afford this holiday season considering your current savings, income and other expenses. Be sure to include a $20 to $100 cushion for unexpected expenses. Track expenditures in Bank of American Fork’s online money manager.

Make a list. Write down the names of the people you plan to buy gifts for and how much you can afford to spend on each person. Don’t forget to save some of your budget for expenses other than gifts including wrapping paper, cards and postage.

Use a debit card. Using your debit card will ensure you have the money to pay for your purchases instead of racking up a credit-card balance. If you have a MyRate Checking® account, your debit-card purchases can also help you earn more interest on the money in your account.*

Set up online banking alerts. Use online banking tools to receive email or text alerts when your account has dipped below a pre-set limit. Make it a goal never to receive one of these alerts!

Bake some cookies. That’s right, if you can’t afford to buy gifts for everyone on your list, bake some holiday goodies and wrap them in cellophane with a holiday bow. Handmade gifts are a special way to say “Happy Holidays” without overspending. Be sure to include these costs in your budget.

Use credit wisely. Your credit card balance shouldn’t be a complete surprise when you open your statement in January. Take only the credit cards you need when holiday shopping and try to use the card with the lowest interest rate. Learn about Bank of American Fork’s fixed-rate credit cards.

Shop around. Start your holiday shopping early to give yourself time to comparison shop. Take time to do some research before you hit the stores by going online or looking at your local newspaper circulars.

*To receive the highest interest rate on the MyRate Checking account, you must open your account with a minimum of $10  and meet three requirements during a month:  (1) Enroll your account for eStatements through online banking (does not need to be redone each month) and log in to online banking at least once every 180 days; (2) Conduct at least one ACH (Automated Clearinghouse) transaction each month, such as a direct deposit of payroll to your account; (3) Use your VISA® check card at least 12 times per qualification cycle for POS (point-of-sale) transactions, i.e., purchases at a store; transactions must post and clear during the qualification cycle in order to count towards the 12 required POS transactions. A qualification cycle begins the day after the last business day of the previous month and ends on the last business day of the current month.

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