Santa is not the only one that should have a naughty and nice list. When it comes to financial help, you can also find examples of good and bad advice.
Naughty advice: Always open a new charge card if you are offered a discount on your purchase so you can save money.
If you get a 30 percent discount on a retail purchase, but you spend 50 percent more, you did not save any money. Also, if you don’t pay off your card in full when due, you will be paying interest that will also result in you paying more than the sales price. Many people find that if they spend cash on retail purchases they will be more careful in how much they spend.
Nice advice: Consult with your spouse if you plan on spending more than $300 on a purchase.
With an average American household earning about $1,000 per week, $300 is a lot of money for one spouse to spend without the knowledge of the other spouse. Your family can decide on a higher or lower number, but you will eliminate a potential money fight if you decide on major purchases together.
Naughty advice: It is great to have a credit card for emergencies.
Credit cards are a convenient way to pay for things, but if you consider this as your main tool for dealing with emergencies, you could be financing your emergencies at 10, 15, or 20 percent interest or maybe even more. Better to have an emergency fund savings account set up at your local financial institution to handle those financial surprises. You can begin with a starter $1,000 emergency fund with a goal to build it up to three to six months of expenses.
Nice advice: Use cash for all impulse shopping categories.
If you use plastic to pay for food, entertainment and clothing there is a good chance you will spend more than what you budgeted (assuming you even budget to begin with.) If instead you give yourself cash on payday for each of these categories, you will never overspend because when the cash is gone, your spending is finished.
Naughty advice: Get a family member to guarantee a personal loan for a car or other purchase.
If a financial institution, which is experienced in analyzing credit, tells you that you also need a creditworthy borrower to guarantee your loan, they are telling you they want someone with stronger credit to back you up. Do you really want to put a family member on the hook if you can’t pay back a loan?
Nice advice: Don’t ask how much a month, just ask how much.
Kelley Blue Book reports that more than 40 percent of used car buyers pay in full when buying their cars, and 20 percent of new car buyers pay in full. You don’t have to get a loan to own a car. People who take out car loans can end up with a loan balance higher than the car is worth, or repossession if they can’t make the car payment. You may also spend more than you may really be able to afford if you pay with a loan instead of with cash.