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How to Avoid a Holiday Debt Headache

As the holiday season draws near, there's a sense of festive excitement in the air. Many of us are busy decorating our homes, preparing for work and family gatherings, and, of course, finding the perfect gifts for our loved ones.

However, the holidays can also bring financial stress due to the added pressure to spend. According to a 2021 survey, 41% U.S. adults said they'd be willing to go into debt, or deeper into debt, for holiday shopping. 

At Wright-Patt Credit Union (WPCU), we believe it's possible to make the holidays special without falling into a cycle of debt. Keep reading for three ways to get ahead of holiday debt:

#1: Trim Your Holiday Gift List

​Gifts are a wonderful way to spread holiday cheer among family, friends, neighbors and other special people in your life. However, there's no need to go into debt to show your appreciation. 

If you need more room in your budget, trimming your gift-giving list is the first place to start. Remember, even if you receive an unexpected present, you don't have to give one in return. A handwritten card is an affordable alternative and just as meaningful.

#2: Track Your Spending

Once you've refined your list, it's time to shop! Take your time and track your spending as you go to stay on budget. You could use a notebook or a spreadsheet, or check out WPCU's Money Management, available within Mobile and Online Banking. 

Money Management lets you see all of your financial accounts, including those from other institutions, all in one place. It also automatically tracks and categorizes your spending so you know exactly where your money is going. Now that's easy!

#3: Use Credit Wisely

Credit cards make holiday shopping quick and convenient. But since cash isn't coming out of your wallet or account right away, it can be easy to overspend if you're not careful. To use credit responsibly, think of it like “cash" and only spend what you know you can comfortably afford to pay back. 

Another holiday shopping tip is to avoid the temptation of signing up for retail store credit cards. While you may be offered a discount on your same-day purchase, retailer credit cards often come with very high interest rates that can lead t​o costly debt. A lower-rate credit card is a smarter choice for everyday purchases and holiday shopping.

See How WPCU Can Help You Get Ahead of Debt!

WPCU is your caring financial partner, here to help you throughout your Financial Flexibility and Freedom® journey. We want to help you get ahead — and stay ahead — of debt during the holidays and all year long. 

If you're dealing with debt, WPCU has tools, resources and support to help you. View our Getting Ahead of Debt page or visit your nearest Member Center to talk with one of our friendly Financial Coaches and create a personalized plan for your unique financial situation.​​