You know that feeling when you go to the store in July and already see holiday decorations for sale? Or, have you noticed the “hype” and advertisements around the latest gadget or other technology months before December? Well, this is called “Christmas Creep,” and it sneaks up on consumers each year. If you aren’t guarded against these spending temptations, your finances could suffer. In the video below, Thomas Nitzsche talks about Christmas Creep and gives tips on how to avoid too much spending leading up to the holidays.
Thomas Nitzsche: And it’s Christmas somewhere.
Kay Quinn: All right. It’s Christmas somewhere. I know you’re not ready to
think about it, but some retailers are already ramping up
their Christmas advertising. It’s called “Christmas Creep,”
but instead of grumbling about it, our next guest is urging
you to use this time to your financial benefit. Thomas
Nitzsche is here from Clearpoint Credit Counseling
Solutions. This is such a good idea, and, you know, you’ve
got a good point too. The retailers spend a lot of time and
planning, getting us to spend our money. We should be
spending this time planning about how we’re going to spend
Thomas Nitzsche: Right, how we’re going to combat it. And the cool weather
actually is kind of getting me in the mood, believe it not.
With it as cool as it’s been, it’s kind of going that way
earlier. But it’s a really good point that we need to come
up with a strategy on how we’re going to maximize our
dollars, especially in this economy, and spend as much time
as the retailers do in planning that.
Kay Quinn: Right. So we have four great tips. We’re going to start out
with number one. Look for credit cards with cash back
rewards programs. Why is that so important?
Thomas Nitzsche: Well, you have to spend money every day. We do this every
day, and if you take advantage of these programs, you can
actually earn money while you’re spending money. So I do
want to point out that the majority of people that we see
at Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions are not people
who need to be using these kind of programs, because we
talk to a lot of people who are behind and in the hole. So
if you’re somebody who is battling with credit card debt.
you can ignore this segment.
Kay Quinn: Well, maybe this tidbit, right.
Thomas Nitzsche: This tidbit. But if you are somebody who pays off your
credit card every month religiously, it’s a great idea to
set as many things as you can up on an auto bill pay that
goes to your credit card, so that you can get these points.
It could be one percent or up to five percent in certain
Kay Quinn: Okay, good advice. Number two, look into preferred retailer
gift cards. I love this one, because I’ve got a bunch of
points on a card, and I can actually get gift cards and
then go buy my gifts, right?
Thomas Nitzsche: Exactly.
Kay Quinn: Is that how it works?
Thomas Nitzsche: Basically, yeah. So the creditor has retailers set up in
their database. So you go onto the website and redeem your
points. And then you can select from these retailers, and
you might get $5 off, you might get $50 off. It depends on
the particular retailer. But if you redeem the points
towards that particular retailer, you’re maximizing those
rewards that you’ve already earned.
Kay Quinn: Right, exactly. Number three, consider unique credit offers.
What are we talking about here?
Thomas Nitzsche: Well, a good example is a major creditor that’s offering
one percent cash back on balance transfers, which is very
rarely seen, if ever. I’ve never seen it before. They’re
actually not charging you to balance transfer. They’re
paying you to balance transfer. Now there is a catch, of
course. They start the interest right away in the first
billing period. So if you don’t pay it off in the first
billing period, you’re going to start getting charged eight
percent interest. So if you’re not paying it off right
away, it’s not a good move. But you can use it as a tool in
your arsenal at Christmas time. You can do all the holiday
shopping on your preferred card, your rewards card, and
then balance transfer it to this card that’s going to give
you another one percent cash back, and then pay it off
Kay Quinn: And that’s number four of course. Pay off your holiday shopping
Thomas Nitzsche: Exactly.
Kay Quinn: How do you do that, though? You just don’t want to overspend,
Thomas Nitzsche: Right. You want to start a plan early. Maybe set money
aside into savings, start a Christmas club. Just to have a
plan to get that paid off right away, because what we see
is that people lose the benefit of all these points and
sales, and they go through all these extra steps to save
money. But then they lose it when they pay it in interest
if they’re not paying off the debt right away, and they’re
paying on it for 6 months, 12 months, years even.
Kay Quinn: Okay. And you sent along some really good links that we’re
going to post on the website, KSDK.com, along with this
interview, so people can go back, take a look at those
links and this interview once again. Thomas Nitzsche from
Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions. Always great to
have you in. Thanks so much.
Thomas Nitzsche: Thank you.