Caution! Credit Card Crossing!

December 17, 2007

If you take a drive up in the mountains, a frequent sign you will see says something like, “Caution. Deer crossing.” Do you ignore the sign? Of course not! You have been warned to keep alert, to avoid an accident. You know that if you hit a deer, it will be very costly and potentially fatal.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could see an occasional “Caution! Credit Card Crossing,” at the stores, during the holidays? How many times do you let the clerk slide that card, without adding up the damage or checking for potentially fatal finances?

For example: do you know the damage Christmas lights can do to your electric bill? I worked for my city’s utility company for 10 years, in my younger days. Since I was in charge of the billing, I ALWAYS had an unbelievable amount of customer calls when the January bills went out.

“My bill is $200 more than last month! You must have made a mistake! I want them to come out and read my meter again.” After the customer took a deep breath, I had one question: “Did you have Christmas lights?” Nine times out of ten, the consumer had not even considered the cost of lighting up the neighborhood for 30 days. Ouch!

The same goes for Credit cards. It is so easy to swipe the card through the machine, go to the next store and repeat. You have all these wonderful purchases, and Christmas is going to be just perfect. Then, January comes and you hyperventilate when you open the credit card bill. Surely, the bank or financial institution made a mistake!

You frantically go down the list of purchases. Did you really spend that much! Wow! You had no idea Christmas cost that much last year! You sure could have used the sign: Caution! Credit card crossing!

How do you keep track of your credit spending, especially during the holiday?



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4 Responses to Caution! Credit Card Crossing!

  • Dividends4life

    Good read, thanks for sharing! This is tough time of the year for a lot of people who are normally good at staying on budget.

    Best Wishes,

  • Tina

    Both of the above comments are EXCELLENT! Whether you spend cash or use credit, keep track. Don’t wait for the bill to come in the mail.

    Also, even shopping for Christmas, being wise is a good thing. Are you buying it because the person could really use it, or will it be just another thing to get lost in the back of a closet somewhere?

  • kitty

    “How do you keep track of your credit spending, especially during the holiday?”
    I try to avoid stores during the holidays alltogether. I get gifts in advance. I hate crowds, and there’ll be even more sales in January, so why waste time? As to the decorations – I already have enough, so I don’t feel the need to buy more.

    In terms of credit spending in general, I simply never make a decision of “buy” or “not to buy” based on how I pay for it. I always think if I need whatever I want to buy or if I want it badly enough to spend the money. With clothing and jewelry I also think – “where am I going to wear it? is it really better than what I already have or is it just another nice shirt/blouse/dress?”, “is it worth the price?”. Additionally, I always have an idea how much I am willing to pay for an item even before I see the price.

    As a result I don’t make that many purchases, so I keep the ballpark figure of how much I spent in my head. I’d imagine it would be more difficult if I had kids. But I do keep all of the receipts, so I think if there had been any danger for my spending more than I can comfortably pay in full without tapping into savings, I’d probably be adding up the receipts after each purchase and calculating how much money I have left.

  • Kevin

    Everyday I take my receipts from my Credit Card purchases and manually enter them into my account. I find that manually entering the data, rather than letting some place like retrieve it for me, makes me face exactly how much I’m spending, and I tend to have a better handle on my purchases.