Category Archives: Personal Finance

How to know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal or not

How to know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal or not

Have you ever received one of those letters in the mail that tells you how you can save nearly $250 per month if you refinance your mortgage with their company?  No closing costs, low rate—sounds great, right?  Well, before you sign the paperwork on this, you need to read the fine print.  Saving $250 a month sounds great.  With the ever-increasing costs of food and other consumer goods, getting a break in the budget can be quite tempting.  But how do you know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal?

How to know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal // Money Savvy Living #mortgage #refinance

There are four major details of the offer that are important to know before deciding if it is a good deal or not:

  1. Rate—Make sure that the low rate the bank is offering is fixed, so that it doesn’t fluctuate after an introductory period. If it is only a three-year fixed rate and then adjustable after that, your $300 per month savings will dwindle quickly once the rate adjusts.  In fact, depending on the terms of the loan, the rate can adjust, only a certain amount each year, but could end up being several percentage points higher than the original introductory rate.
  2. Loan Points—Are you having to pay points to buy the rate down to the low rate that is being advertised. If it is going to cost you several thousand dollars, even if the amount is rolled into the loan, then the costs could end up out-weighing the benefits.
  3. Closing Costs—Does $0 closing costs really mean there are no closing costs? While you may not be expected to come up with closing costs out-of-pocket, they may be rolled into the loan or there may even be a large pre-payment penalty if you sell your home or refinance within a certain amount of time.
  4. Term—what they don’t usually point out in big, bold print on those marketing letters is that it in order to achieve the $250 per month savings, you are going back to a 30 year term on your mortgage. If you have already been paying on your current mortgage for 10 years, going back to a 30 year term may actually cost you money.


Related post: Renting vs. Buying: How to Know When Renting is the Best Option


So how can you figure out if the offer is a good deal?  Follow these simple calculations, and you will know for sure:

Example Scenario: Current mortgage—30 year fixed rate of 5.5%, $150,000 original loan amount, with an $852 monthly payment (principle and interest only—do not include any portion that is paid to homeowner’s insurance), and you have been paying on it for 10 years (120 payments).  What you need to calculate is how much you have already paid (total of payments), what you have left (mortgage payoff balance), and total cost of payments of both mortgages.

Calculate Total of Payments:

Monthly Payment x Number of Payments = Total of Payments

$852 x 120 months = $102,240

Calculate Mortgage Payoff Balance:

This is easy because the remaining balance should show up on your monthly mortgage statement.  However, you would want to call your mortgage company for an exact payoff amount because if there is any prepayment penalty that would have to be added to the balance.  You can also use an amortization calculator to estimate a payoff balance.

How to know if refinancing your mortgage is a good deal // Money Savvy Living #mortgage #refinance


Related post: How Credit Score Affects Your Monthly Bills


$123,527 Mortgage Payoff Balance

Calculate Total Cost of Payments of Current Mortgage:  (Yes, this is a big number!  You should have seen it on the Truth-In-Lending when you signed your original mortgage papers)

Monthly Payment x Term of Loan = Total Cost of Mortgage

                                $852 x 360 months = $306,720

Calculate Total Cost of Payment of New Mortgage:  If your new mortgage is going to save you approximately $250 per month, (with a lower rate of around 4.17%), then your new principle and interest payment would be $602 per month.

                Monthly Payment x Term of Loan = Total Cost of Mortgage

                $602 x 360 months = $216,720

The cost of this new loan is lower, however, you need to add the amount that you have already paid to this balance because it is actual cost to you—which you have already paid.

$216,720 + $123,527 = $340,247

Now, just compare the two Total Cost of Mortgage values:

Current mortgage, total cost of mortgage: $306,720

Potential New Mortgage, total cost of mortgage: $340,247

So even though the new loan offers a lower rate and monthly savings, by taking you back to a 30 year term, you will actually pay more than if you kept the current mortgage that you have.  So if you are comfortable with your current payment, keep the current mortgage that you have; if however, your situation has changed and you absolutely need the monthly savings it might make sense to make the change.  You can always pay more toward the principle once your financial situation allows it again.



*Example scenario for illustrative purposes only.


How I Get Free Gas for my Car Just for Buying Christmas Gifts

How I Get Free Gas for my Car Just for Buying Christmas Gifts

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GiantEaglePerks #CollectiveBias #ad

Can you believe it’s already less than two months until Christmas is here?! So that means it is time to start Christmas shopping… Ok, I have to admit, I already started! When I see a good sale and I think that it’s something one of kids would like, I just go ahead and get it—and save it for Christmas. For those that are a bit harder to shop for, I typically go with gift cards—and that’s how I am able to get free gas for my car just for buying Christmas gifts!

Free gas… for shopping?? I know, I doesn’t make sense. But trust me, it is not a typo. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: almost everything you buy at Giant Eagle gives you points in the Fuel Perks Plus program! So whether I am buying my weekly groceries, a yoga mat, nail polish, shampoo and conditioner, laundry detergent, a book, stationary, or gift cards—I am earning points towards free gas or groceries!

How to get started:

More Perks, More Places, More Savings. Learn how the Perks Program works and get 100 bonus perks by clicking here!

You need a Giant Eagle Advantage card to keep track of all your points. It’s free to get, and besides keeping track of your points, being a Giant Eagle Advantage customer gives you access to extra savings and weekly specials. If you’d like to sign up for one, you can visit the Customer Service desk at your neighborhood Giant Eagle where you can register for free in less than five minutes! Or, you can register by phone—just call 1-800-553-2324.

Once you have signed up, you can also view perks status on Giant Eagle’s new mobile app available for iOS and Android devices.

*If you don’t have an advantage card and would like to sign up to track when you earn and redeem perks, you can visit the Customer Service desk. Or, you can register by phone—just call 1-866-620-0216.

Exactly how does Fuel Perks Plus work?

Start earning points. Every time you shop at Giant Eagle, make sure to scan your Advantage card:

  • You earn 1 perk for every dollar spent on groceries, health and beauty, gift cards, and more in-store.
  • You earn 2 perks for every gallon of gasoline you purchase at the GetGo.
  • You earn 50 bonus perks for every 5 qualifying prescriptions that you have filled at the Giant Eagle pharmacy.

*Check out the Fuel Perks Plus program details, terms, and conditions here.

What can you earn?

There is no limit to the amount of perks that you can earn! For every 50 perks accumulated, you can redeem them for 2 percent off on groceries or $0.10 off per gallon of fuel. You can redeem them for up to 20 percent off any single grocery order or up to a FREE tank of gas (up to 30 gallons of fuel)! If you have earned more points than you can redeem in a single visit, no problem, those points will roll forward and you can use them on a future visit.

On my last trip to Giant Eagle, I was able to redeem my Fuel Perks points and save $0.30 per gallon when I filled up my car.

And the best part is that I was even able to earn more Fuel Perks points on the purchase of the gas!

I have been stocking up on gift cards to use for Christmas gifts, but Giant Eagle also offers a nice selection of gifts for occasions year-round. So it doesn’t really matter what holiday or event is coming up, I can shop at Giant Eagle and save money on groceries or get FREE gas for everyday items that I was going to purchase anyways!

So what are you waiting for?  Start earning your Fuel Perks on the things you buy everyday!

How Credit Score Affects Your Monthly Bills

How Credit Score Affects Your Monthly Bills

This post has been sponsored by  All opinions are honestly conveyed and are mine alone.

You probably know that how you pay your monthly bills affects your credit score: on-time payments will increase your credit score, while late payments will cost you extra in fees and lower your credit score.  But did you realize that your credit score can also impact the amount that you have to pay for your monthly bills?

image: via

What is your credit score?

Your credit score is basically a numerical way for the credit bureaus to express your creditworthiness.  Credit scores range from around 300 to 850.  The higher your credit score, the better your credit.  A higher score tells potential lenders that you are a low risk consumer and will likely payback the credit that they extend to you.  A low score tells creditors that you are a higher risk borrower.  There are several factors that go into calculating your credit score:

  • Length of credit history
  • Payment history
  • Balance of accounts as compared to credit line
  • Amount of times you credit has been pulled within a certain time period
How does your credit score actually affect your monthly bills?

Your credit score will have an impact on the rates that you qualify for when obtaining financing.  So when you apply for a new credit card, auto loan, or a mortgage, creditors base the programs and rates that they offer to you based on your credit score.  If you have a high credit score, you are going to qualify for a lower rate, which will give you lower monthly payments.  If your credit score is low, creditors will give you a higher rate because creditors look at lending you money to you as more of a risk, and this will cause you to have higher monthly payments.

What can you do to improve your score?

If you have a credit score that is less than perfect, or don’t have much of a credit history—don’t worry, there are steps that you can take to help improve your score.

Determine why you need to raise your credit score. Is it for lack of a credit history or because you have a bad credit history?

Lack of credit history

If you lack a credit history, the best thing you can do to build credit is to actually open a credit card and use it to pay monthly bills.  Because you are trying to establish a credit history, expect that the credit card that you get approved for may have a small line of credit and a high interest rate.  But that’s ok.  You don’t have to carry a balance on it from month to month, you can pay it off each month to avoid interest, but every month that you use your credit card, it will report to the credit bureaus.  Make sure that you pay the credit card bill on-time each month, and that will also report to the credit bureau—this will build a solid credit history for you.  So if you are accustomed to using cash, realize that you will have to utilize credit in order to build a credit history.

Credit repair

If you need to clean up a less-than-perfect credit history, there are several steps that you can take:

Start paying your bills on-time.  If it is at all possible, get your bills caught up and current.  Sometimes, when you are making late payments, fees may be added in and your next month’s payment isn’t fully going toward that month; in fact, it may be keeping your payments in a consistent cycle of carrying forward an unpaid amount from each month.

Close any old accounts.  If you have an old credit card that you no longer use, make sure to close it—as long as it is in good standing and has a zero balance.  If you leave old accounts open, it could be a risk for potential identity theft.

Clean up your credit report.  Sometimes old collection accounts, liens, or other derogatory information show up on your credit report.  Even though creditors are supposed to report when items have been resolved, it doesn’t always happen.  So how do you do this?  Using services from a company such as can help you identify old or erroneous items showing on your credit report, work with you to resolve those issues, and contact the credit bureaus to make sure these items are removed or updated.  Getting these incorrect items off your current credit report can increase your score quite quickly.

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Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon

Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon

I just love a good deal!  I think that most of us do… so when I can find coupons to save money on the everyday things that I am going to buy anyways, that’s a win for my budget!

Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon // Money Savvy Living

Even though I do love coupons, I seem to never have them with me when I need them.  But that is also why Groupon is so convenient… I can access the Groupon deals right from my cell phone, which I almost always have with me—either through the Groupon app or the Groupon website.

Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon // Money Savvy Living

Here’s a few of my favorite retailers that have deals on Groupon:

Home Depot



Bed Bath & Beyond


Verizon Wireless



Victoria’s Secret

Babies R Us


Sam’s Club


New York & Company

Save Everyday at 100+ Retailers with Deals from Groupon // Money Savvy Living


For a complete list of retailers at Groupon, click HERE.

Which Groupon retailers do you shop at?  Check it out today and save on your next purchase!


*This post has been sponsored by US Family Guide and it’s advertiser.  Product review and opinions expressed in this post are mine alone. #ad

7 Things You Don’t Want to Forget When Filing Your Taxes

7 things you don’t want to forget when filing your taxes


7 Things You Don’t Want to Forget When Filing Your Taxes // Money Savvy Living
If you are one of the many tax procrastinators out there, you are probably finding yourself up against the rapidly-approaching deadline of April 15.  However, because April 15 falls on a Saturday this year and Emancipation Day is the following Monday, the deadline to file your taxes, is Tuesday, April 18, 2017. If you haven’t done your taxes yet, you still have plenty of time to get them done. But in a hurry to reach the deadline, don’t forget to do these seven things, or you may incur penalties:

  1. Don’t forget to sign your return. Sounds obvious, right? But it is very easy to overlook. If you are e-filing, you will be prompted to verify with your electronic signature, but if you are printing out returns and mailing them in, don’t forget to sign and date them. Also make sure that you make a photocopy of the signed return for yourself—you may need these for obtaining future financing.
  2. Make sure tax preparer information is complete. Even if you are preparing them yourself, make sure that information is filled out. This is even more important if someone else is doing your taxes because if you do a paid-tax preparer, they also have some liability in preparing your taxes correctly. Should a problem arise in the future, knowing exactly who prepared each tax return is important.
  3. Send in the taxes that you owe with the return. This one really goes hand-in-hand with making sure your return is signed—make sure you have included the payment for any taxes that you owe. But if it is coming down to the deadline, you may be in such a hurry to get your tax form filed that you forget this, and that could cost you extra in penalties.
  4. Send your return to the correct address. While this sounds simple, it can actually be a bit confusing. Tax returns that the filer gets a return are sent to one address and tax returns that owe money are typically sent to a different address. Sending a tax return on which your owe money to the wrong address could delay receipt of payment.
  5. Complete return address on envelope. This is one time that it is extremely important to put your return address on the envelope. Whether it is insufficient postage, the wrong address, if the address is illegible, or any other reason that your tax envelope would be undeliverable, you don’t want your personal tax return to become “lost in the mail.” Your social security number, along with any of your dependents, is on that return. A lost return could cause you to encounter penalties and possibly make you susceptible to identity theft.
  6. Get your tax return envelope weighed. Don’t assume that just because you can fit your tax return in the envelope that regular postage will be okay. Bulky envelopes or oversized envelopes can also cost a little bit more to mail. Don’t guess or assume that you have enough postage on the envelope; take the time to stop by the post office and have it weighed just to be sure.
  7. File for an extension, if necessary. If you see that you are not going to be able to get your taxes filed on time, make sure you file for an extension. This will prevent you from being penalized for a late return, but allow you the time that you need in order to finish.

And if you are lucky enough to be getting a refund, do you have a plan for how to spend it? has some ideas for spending your tax refund wisely:

How Will You Spend Your Tax Refund // Money Savvy Living


How Much Will it Cost to Update Your House?

How Much Will it Cost to Update Your House?

Buying your dream home with all the desired facilities is one of the best experiences you can ever have. However, finding a house with everything that you want may be harder than expected, so it can also be one of the most stressful experiences too—especially if the home you are looking to buy needs a little work done to it… so you may be wondering, “just how much will it cost to update my house?”


How much will it cost to update your house? // Money Savvy Living


If you are looking to renovate your house, which might include remodeling your kitchen, remodeling the bathroom, getting a new roof, or simply painting your house to give it a new-look, you need to know the costs involved before you get started on the renovation project.  Here are some of the more common home renovations and a quick breakdown of costs:



Kitchen Remodel

If you were to fix and remodel your kitchen, it could cost you around $20,000. Kitchen remodeling is a big deal that would include painting walls, re-facing cabinets, upgrading the sink and installing a tile backsplash.


Bathroom Remodel

Bathrooms remodels can be expensive and would include installing bathtubs, counter tops, faucets and other bathroom fixtures, for a grand total cost of around $9000.


New Roof

A new roof is a significant investment in your house and can cost you around $7000. While a new roof can improve the overall aesthetics of your house and improve energy efficiency, a functional roof is considered a necessity and won’t increase the resale value of your home by very much.



Even something as simple as updating paint colors throughout your home can cost around $1,600.


Many improvements that boost your home’s value could render your home insurance coverage inadequate and leave you vulnerable to losses. So when you make major changes, be sure to talk with your insurance agent to see if a reassessment is necessary.

Also keep in mind that renovations on older homes can also encounter unexpected costs due to meeting current codes or re-working electric or plumbing.

Here is a breakdown of some of the more common home improvement and renovation costs:

infographic put together by Fast Florida House Sale

How Much Will it Cost to Update Your Home? // Money Savvy Living

These costs represent the general costs involved with typical home renovations, you will need to consult a contractor or builder for a specific quote.

Top Money Saving Tips for Planning a Home Remodel

Top Money Saving Tips for Planning a Home Remodel 


Top Money Saving Tips for Planning a Home Remodel | Money Savvy Living


We’ve all heard horror stories of a manageable home remodel growing into a monster that feasts on money, time, and patience between family members. But proper planning and saving techniques can prepare you for unexpected issues, ease stress, and leave you content with the decisions you’ve made. Here are some of our favorite tips, here at Home Improvement Leads, for keeping things reasonable and slashing costs on your home remodel.


Give Yourself a Cushion

Unforeseen circumstances can cause unnecessary anxiety over the budget and the schedule. They’re “unnecessary” because even though you may not be able to specifically anticipate corroded pipes or a bad foundation, you should anticipate some type of issue, especially when remodeling an older home. Building a 15 to 20 percent cushion for unforeseen circumstances helps you keep the rest of the remodel realistic.

The issues may not even be structural. In fact, you may change your mind about a choice you made in the conceptual stage that just isn’t panning out the way you wanted. Either way, put that cushion in the budget. If you don’t use it, no harm done!


Top Money Saving Tips for Planning a Home Remodel | Money Savvy Living


Use Reclaimed Materials

Finding quality salvaged materials is the perfect solution for homeowners concerned about the environment and/or their wallet. It’s an even better solution for the DIYers out there since some contractors prefer to only work with new materials. Our passion for eco-friendly living gets stronger every day, so it’s likely that future prospective home buyers will appreciate the wise use of resources and the character that reclaimed materials add. But if you’re thinking of selling your home at some point, make sure not to do anything too outlandish—you don’t want homeowners to walk in and see their own renovation list.


Handle Your Own Demo

Maybe you’re not enough of a DIY pro to handle the reno yourself. But you can still get your hands dirty by doing your own demo—and saving money in the process. All you need are a few handheld tools and some willpower. But before you go knocking down walls, make sure you know what you’re doing; you need to look out for electrical wiring, plumbing, and load-bearing walls. It’s better to pay for professional demo than to cause damage by hacking aimlessly at the walls.


Top Money Saving Tips for Planning a Home Remodel | Money Savvy Living


Avoid Rearranging Plumbing Fixtures

Bathrooms and kitchens get a ton of daily use, so the layout of these rooms has to be functional. But if you’re simply tired of the aesthetic and want to move things around, consider leaving fixtures like the toilet and sink where they are. There’s a lot going on behind the walls of your home, and moving a toilet just a couple feet can costs thousands in plumbing costs. If you can give your bathroom or kitchen a facelift without contending with the plumbing, you could save thousands.


Think Long-Term

It doesn’t do much good to settle for a more affordable option only to find it needs to be replaced sooner than the premium option you actually wanted. For example, asphalt roofing can be half the price of premium metal, but it can also have less than half the life expectancy. Cast your vision into the future and think about home value, durability, and what you want to come home to everyday.


Pay Attention to the Details

You may think big savings only come from compromising on big wish list items like countertops, flooring, cabinets, etc. But a home remodel involves countless small details, many of which involve just a little extra labor that all adds up. For example, if your new design arbitrarily requires custom measurements as opposed to off-the-shelf dimension, that means you’re paying someone to trim and adjust when the material could be directly installed instead. Planning a home renovation wisely is about more than finding a compromise here and there. Do everything with intention and you will find yourself saving money left and right.


This has been a guest post by Hannah West. 

Hannah West, guest contributor to Money Savvy Living


Hannah writes for Home Improvement Leads with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence while connecting them to quality home remodel contractors.

What is a Return of Premium Life Insurance Policy? And Why You Should Consider Getting One

What is return of premium life insurance? And why should I have it?

Return of Premium Life Insurance | Money Savvy Living

Life insurance.  It’s something that we all know that we need, but figuring out what type of insurance policy to get can be confusing and costly.  You may have never heard of return of premium life insurance, so I’m going to break it all down for you and tell you exactly why you need to add one of these to your portfolio.

A return of premium life insurance policy is different than regular term life insurance or whole life insurance.  But while it is different, it is also similar because it is a sort of combination of the two.

What is term life insurance?

A standard term life insurance policy gives you coverage for a specific period of time (for example: a 20 or 30 year term) and when that time is up, if your family has not had to use the death benefit, the money that you have paid in is a sunk cost—so, cash no value has accumulated, and there is no more insurance coverage either.

What is whole life insurance?

A whole life insurance policy does build cash value, but typically has higher monthly premiums because it is set up to be an active policy until you pass away, so there is no definite term.  Or it gives you the option to cash it out later in life because the premiums that have been paid essentially build a forced savings account for the insured.

What is return of premium life insurance?

With a return of premium life insurance policy, you have life insurance coverage for a specified period of time (a term of 20 or 30 years, for instance), but if you live beyond the term and did not need the death benefit amount, then you are able to get the value of the premiums that you have paid in over that term returned to you.  So at the end of the term, you now have several thousand dollars set aside in a savings!  So basically, you have built a nice savings account for retirement.

Return of Premium Life Insurance | Money Savvy Living

This option is especially appealing for younger adults who may be just starting a career or a family and don’t have a lot of disposable income with which to buy a whole life policy, but don’t want to feel like they are throwing money away on a term policy, assuming they will outlive the benefit.

It is also a nice way to ensure that you and your family have a retirement nest egg too.  While enjoying the benefit of the life insurance coverage, which is important when you have small children or large expenses, such as a mortgage or college to pay for, it provides that safety net for your family with financial security at the time that it is most needed.  But assuming you won’t need to use it for the insurance, it is also a very nice retirement savings tool.

Summary of benefits of return of premium life insurance:

  • Lower premiums—the main goal of this type of insurance is to provide term coverage, so the premiums are lower than whole life, as the focus is not on building the cash value.
  • Fixed premium—because the focus is more on term coverage, the premium is fixed, so for the term of the policy, the premium will not change.
  • Provides term coverage—if something were to happen to the insured during the term of coverage, the entire death benefit would be paid to the beneficiaries.
  • Builds cash value—even though the focus of this insurance is not to build savings, if you do not need the death benefit during the term of the insurance, you will get the premiums that you paid in over the years returned to you.





Unique Gift Ideas Under $100

Unique Gifts Ideas Under $100

Unique Gifts from UncommonGoods for Less Than $100 | Money Savvy Living |

This post has been sponsored by UncommonGoods.  All opinions are mine alone.  #UncommonGoods #ad


If you are looking for a unique gift for a birthday, anniversary, wedding or other holiday, then you really need to check out these cool gadgets from UncommonGoods.  They have unique gift ideas for every budget, so you won’t have to break the bank trying to find the perfect gift.  It is also nice to know that UncommonGoods was founded on the principles of offering socially responsible products, environmentally friendly products, and giving back through the Better to Give Program.

UncommonGoods offers unique gift ideas for kids, teens, and adults that are sure to be a hit.  I like to look for gifts that fit my frugal lifestyle, but also offer something that someone may never have heard of before, is useful, and will get the “Wow, that’s really cool—I love it!” reaction.  So here is my list of favorites (and they are budget-friendly too!):


Birthday Picks: 

Birthstone Definition Necklace, this beautiful necklace is handmade in Texas, exclusively for UncommonGoods, $50

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Bluetooth Tracking Tag, Do you misplace your keys a lot?  You can change that for only $40

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Magnetic Key Holder, This key holder comes in the shape of the United States or you can even choose an individual state, $44

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Craft IPA Beer Shampoo and Conditioner, Yes, beer is good for more than drinking… it will give you beautiful hair as well…$19.95

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Heat Conducting Ice Cream Scoop, You will never have to dip your ice cream scoop in hot water again or wait for your ice cream to thaw, $19.99

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Anniversary and Wedding Picks:

Ticket Stub Diary You can now easily create a keepsake of all the sporting events, movies, and concerts that you and your significant other attend together…$12

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Personalized Maple Wall Clock This makes a unique and special gift with the ability to add a surname or date to this clock, $72

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Personalized Cutting Board  Personal and useful—all in one!  A great addition for any newlywed’s kitchen, $54

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Kids and Teens Picks:

Edible Chemistry Kit What can make learning more fun than a cool science experiment?  One that you can eat!  $18

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Bioluminescent Aquarium (small) Tiny plankton will illuminate this spherical aquarium when you swirl it.  Truly a one-of-a-kind gift $59.95

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Equation Geek Watch Geeks rule the world, right?  Your science-loving teen will love this equation watch. $68

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DIY Lip Balm Kit Not only is this do-it-yourself gift a fun idea, proceeds from these kits helps to provides jobs and support to women in the Washington DC area. $40

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Step outside of the stand-by gifts that you may normally givelike socks… because, really, no one is excited to receive socksagain.

It’s a Credit Card Christmas

It's a Credit Card Christmas | Money Savvy Living


I’ll be fine and dandy, Lord it’s like a… credit card Christmas. I’m barely getting through tomorrow… But still I won’t let… spending get me way down…


Did you think I was going for a “hard candy” Christmas?  You probably even started to sing along, didn’t you?  Don’t be shy… I know you heard the tune and now it’s stuck in your head, am I right?!


Well, it may or may not be a “hard candy” Christmas for you, but it certainly is going to be a credit card Christmas for millions of Americans this year.  A recent Holiday Spending Survey, found that the average individual plans to spend $738 for Christmas this year.  When you add that up for the 245 million adults that plan on doing this shopping, you reach a staggering figure of $181 billion on gifts this holiday season!


If you were floored by that figure, wait until you hear this… of those 245 million shoppers, 64 percent of them will use credit cards, or some form of debt, to buy those gifts!  So within the next couple of weeks, over $103 billion dollars in debt will be acquired by Americans just for Christmas shopping.


Buying the Perfect Gift is Not an Excuse to Overspend | Money Savvy Living


So, how can you keep yourself from having a credit card Christmas?


If you haven’t been planning throughout the year already, you can’t really change that at this point, but there are a few things that you can do to help yourself from relying totally on credit cards to pay for Christmas:


Use cash—yes, obvious, but as much as you can, use cash.  Using cash keeps you in the clear, so you don’t have to worry about compounding interest on those high interest rate cards.  Even if you pay for half of your gifts in cash, that will be less to pay off in January.  Every small step that you can take to paying off debt makes a huge difference!


Pay off credit quickly—sometimes it makes sense to use credit.  Maybe you get a store discount for using their store credit card—and that can actually save you money, but only if you take advantage of the savings and pay the bill off as soon as it arrives next month.


Don’t buy gifts that people don’t want—this one gets a bit tricky, but let me explain what I mean.  Have you ever opened a gift and had to try to grin and say thank you when you have no idea what it is?  Perhaps you received a gift, like a $30 canister of gourmet popcorn and thought, “I would have rather had the money that was spent on that instead.”  You know, the nice gift that you really didn’t need or want.  The one that may never be used… I think that we’ve all received them, and probably even given them.  So this year, if you aren’t sure about what to buy, give something that is more meaningful… and here are a few ideas:


  • For new parents or parents of toddlers—offer babysitting as your gift.  Seriously, any new parent or parent of a toddler knows that free babysitting is pure GOLD.  I guarantee they will love this gift!
  • For grandparents— make a keepsake ornament from the kids.  Grandparents love anything that is made by their grandchildren, so whether it’s a handprint ornament, craft, or special card, it will be way more meaningful that then sweatshirt that says “World’s Best Grandpa.”  I’ll let you in on a secret: No one really wants to wear these shirts.  Ever.
  • For mom and dad—dad doesn’t need another tie, and mom doesn’t want kitchen utensils.  They probably just want some extra time with you.  So, instead of spending money on something that they don’t really need, invite mom out to lunch just because, make time to go on that hunting trip with dad that you have been too busy to take… they will appreciate this much more…
  • For your kids—as parents we want to make sure that our kids have a HUGE pile of gifts to open.  Because what is better than the joy on their faces and they run downstairs on Christmas morning to see all the wonderful packages that Santa left?!  But, we all know that joy only lasts as long as there are more gifts to tear open and when the dust settles, the kids play with their new loot for about 5 minutes and then life goes back to normal—and all those big bucks you spent to fulfil every Christmas list wish are seemingly wasted… talk to your kids about the true meaning of Christmas and find a way to have them learn the joy of giving… that will last for them a lot longer than getting the hottest, most expensive toy of the season…


Just because it seems like everyone around you is giving and receiving the latest and greatest gifts this season, based on the recent Holiday Spending Survey, they may very well be going into debt to do so.


Check out one of my posts, 10 Ways to Avoid Overspending This Year for Christmas and find out even more ways to get the perfect gift without overspending and going into debt.

10 Ways to Avoid Overspending this Christmas | Money Savvy Living

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