Holiday shopping: How to avoid a financial crunch

Holiday shopping: How to avoid a financial crunch
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 7:02 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - With Christmas shopping well underway, financial experts urge shoppers to use caution to avoid any financial crunch.

Jake Woodburn, vice president market manager for Summit Community Bank in South Charleston, said most customers plan ahead, but trouble picks up at CHristmas for those who haven’t.

“It’s just where they get into a negative balance, they paycheck comes in, (the negative balance) takes half of the pay and then they’re right back in it the next paycheck,” he said. “It’s just recurring.”

Experts say follow Santa’s advice. Make a list, or in this case, a budget.

“Have a number in mind that you’re willing to spend and stick to it,” Woodburn said. “Don’t over extend.”

Otherwise, experts say shoppers will live in the now, caught up in a buying frenzy and lose sight of their total bill.

The solution, experts say, is to know what you spend. Doing so will prevent overdrafts and keep next month’s credit card bill in check.

“Everybody’s got the online app, the online service, the online apps where you can keep up to the second spending,” Woodburn said. “As far as balance alerts, where if you get to whatever you set it at, $50 left in your account, $20 left in your account, you’ll get an alert so then you’ll know.”

Experts also urge caution with holiday credit card deals. Many offer zero-percent interest, but just for a while and can greatly increase the price of that gift, if you don’t pay off the credit card in time.

Another good tip is to participate in a Christmas savings account. They are offered by banks and credit unions across the region and can really be a good way to set aside money and have peace of mind in December.

Just a bit of advice to keep today’s shopping trip from becoming January’s headache.