Lifestyle

Holiday financial tips

Holiday season can be stressful for Washington consumers, especially if the prospect of buying gifts will add to an already burdensome debt load.

"Careful planning and active communication are important tools to effectively managing personal finances, particularly if a consumer is struggling to make payments on their current debt obligations or being contacted by a debt collector," Washington Collectors Association President Greg Luhn said.

 

  • Plan and Budget: Holiday gift giving doesn't need to break the bank; after all, it's the thought that counts.  Determine what you can reasonably afford, create a budget and plan for gifts, and stick to it.  Keep in mind that purchases on credit will need to be repaid at some point in the future.

 

  • Track your Spending: Keep tabs on how much you spend to help stay within the guidelines of your "holiday budget."

 

  • Protect your Identity: Be careful about giving personal information including a credit or debit card number over the phone and online. Monitor your accounts and immediately report any suspicious or unauthorized purchases to your bank or credit card company.  Consumers should monitor their credit and are entitled to a free credit report each year at www.annualcreditreport.com.  If you believe your identity has been stolen, contact your local police department.

 

  • Communicate with Creditors: Having trouble making payments on an existing debt? Contact the creditor to discuss alternative payment arrangements. It won't eliminate your debt but it can make things more manageable. Communication is particularly important if you are behind in payments to a creditor (e.g., credit card, loan, mortgage, medical) to avoid having the debt appear on credit reports.

 

  • Communicate with the Debt Collector: In the event you hear from a debt collector, avoiding a letter or call won't make the debt go away.  The reason for the contact cannot be resolved without the ability to communicate; whether it's to pay an owed debt, verify an alleged debt or confirm that the debt collector has reached the wrong person.

 

Know your Rights: Consumers have important rights when contacted by a creditor or debt collector. For more information about consumer rights in debt collection or to ask questions, visit www.askdoctordebt.org. Created by the ACA International Education Foundation, It's a free resource that does not require log-in or the sharing of personal information.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Nov 26
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates