Black Friday doesn't have to lead to black marks on your credit report
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah; November 21, 2011 — Zions Bank is kicking off the 2012 holiday shopping season with tips to manage holiday spending and avoid a post-holiday credit hangover. Zions Bank recommends that customers manage their finances this holiday season with the following spending tips:
Create a budget and stick to it. Take advantage of Zions Bank's free online eZ Budget program at zionsbank.com/ezbudget to quickly customize a spending plan and your gift-giving budget. Set a dollar amount based on what you can afford this holiday season considering your current savings, income and other expenses. Be sure to include a $20 to $100 cushion for unexpected expenses.
Make a list. Write down the names of the people you plan to buy gifts for and how much you can afford to spend on each person. The Gift Planner tab in the eZ Budget website allows users to personalize their lists for each gift recipient, including estimated and actual expenses. Don't forget to save some of your budget for expenses other than gifts, including wrapping paper, cards and postage.
Use credit wisely. Your credit card balance shouldn't be a complete surprise when you open your statement in January. Take only the credit cards you need when holiday shopping and try to use the card with the lowest interest rate.
Cash in on card rewards. Utilize credit card perk programs such Zions Cash Rewards, which rewards Zions Bank Visa® cardholders with up to 50 percent cash back for making qualifying purchases at various local and national retail stores, restaurants, and more. See deals at zionscashrewards.com.
Save your receipts. Keep track of your expenses and add them up weekly to be sure you're sticking to your budget. If you're getting close to your spending limit, reevaluate your list, and consider making homemade gifts to keep expenses down.
Shop around. Start your holiday shopping early to give yourself time to comparison shop. Take time to do some research before you hit the stores by going online or looking at your local newspaper circulars.
Pay bills on time. Avoid missing the due date for your credit card payments. Even if you can only pay the minimum, pay it on time. Don't assume the mail will arrive on time, especially during the holidays. Use online bill pay to ensure your bills get paid promptly.
"Consumers spreading holiday cheer should keep in mind that January bills are only a couple of months away," says Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson. "If consumers are not budgeting for their holiday purchases, people will find themselves bringing in the New Year with last year's debt. Holding true to one's budget during the busy holiday season is an excellent jumpstart to healthy year-long budgeting habits."
Zions Bank is Utah's oldest financial institution and is the only local bank with a statewide distribution of financial centers, Zions Bank operates locations in communities throughout Utah and Idaho. In addition to offering a wide range of traditional banking services, Zions Bank is also a leader in small business lending and has ranked as the No. 1 lender of U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) loans in Utah for the past 18 consecutive years. Founded in 1873, Zions Bank has been serving the communities of Utah for more than 135 years. Additional information is available at www.zionsbank.com.