Question: I can’t handle the crowds on Black Friday, and I’m not in the mood to sit in front of a computer and shop on Cyber Monday. My wife says I miss all the best deals by shopping last minute, but I don’t think so.
More importantly, my wife never makes out a holiday shopping budget, and I think that’s more important than anything else. She also opens all these store credit card accounts to get an extra bonus, but there’s got to be a catch to that, right?
What do you think, Howard? Got any advice so we don’t fight over buying stuff for other people?
— Mark in Indiana
Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…
I don’t like to take sides in marital disputes, but I have to agree with you, Mark.
Scoring a great deal on Black Friday doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the budget for it. Even if you get 50 percent of the original price, paying for it with a credit card you can’t pay off for six months will eat up all your savings.
As for those store credit cards, those are indeed a double-edged sword — they can really cut you. Debt.com tackled that topic in Just Say ‘Bah, Humbug’ To Store Credit Cards.
Because I hate to see couples fighting anytime, but especially during the holidays, I recorded some advice for you and your wife, but it applies to all families…
I’ll leave you with this advice: the holidays are a perfect time to give yourself a free present: a PFM. That stands for “personal finance manager.” It’s basically an online platform that lets you easily enter your earnings and spending so you can create budgets as painlessly as possible. These programs have been around for a number of years now, and they’re as safe as anything can be online.
The two best, in my opinion, are Mint and PowerWallet. Mint has been around longer, but I think PowerWallet looks nicer. How should you choose? The same way: Whichever looks nicer to you. Why? Because you’ll be looking at it quite a bit, and if the design appeals to you, you’ll look at it just a little longer.
Have a debt question?
Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.