Financial specialist Loren Entsuah shares 8 money hacks for the holiday season

With Christmas fast approaching, last-minute shoppers are taking advantage of season-wide deals. Long lines and crowded parking lots are a part of the holiday shopping tradition. Financial expert Loren Entsuah knows this which is why he’s provided 8 hacks that shoppers should apply during this season. Entsuah states that each step will help alleviate the financial burden that accompanies the holidays.

Hack 1: Leverage Department store cards this holiday season.

Department store cards usually have special perks, offers or incentives that can usually save you a percentage off your purchase, receive cashback or even bonus points for spending. When deciding if you should use your credit cards or not for shopping, keep this in mind. It’s a great way to reap the benefits the card company is offering on the backend.

Hack 2: Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be the starting points for your holiday shopping.

Start by snagging some amazing holiday deals on your shopping list during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While using your credit cards during this time, it’s important to stay within your budget and be mindful of your credit card utilization of 30% or less. We all know how easy it is to splurge and go overboard with our funds. Whether online or in-store, your goal is to save big!

Hack 3: Before shopping, write out a finalized budget for the entire holiday season.

A helpful tip would be to come up with a budget and try sorting everything out in individual envelopes. For example, Gifts for your kids you’d label the envelope with their name and amount your budgeting to spend on them. When the funds in the envelope are gone, stop spending! I understand that can be easier said than done when it comes to children, however, keep your eye on the prize which is staying within your budget. This idea can go for all your holiday needs whether you’re buying gifts for family and friends or purchasing food/décor for holiday parties.

Hack 4: Develop a healthy relationship with your credit cards this season.

Whether you use any of your pre-existing credit cards (or a new credit card)be sure to pay the charged amount instantly. If not, prepare to pay no later than the monthly due date. Paying your balance immediately can help you avoid increased interest charges and keep your credit card utilization low, freeing up more funds to use down the line. Remember, your credit card utilization should be no more than 30% of the line of credit amount. This can make or break your credit score.

PHOTO: Loren Entsuah

Hack 5: Don’t play the avoidance game with your financial statements during and after the holiday season.

There’s no doubt that the absolute best decision when using credit cards is to tackle the balance head-on, rather than putting it off after all the holiday festivities have subsided. When balances are not paid by the due date, you run the risk of pesky late fees and unnecessary charges that can cost you more money. Your credit score will be impacted as well. Be responsible and don’t delay. Now, it’s natural for unforeseen circumstances to happen where making a payment may not be in your favor at the time. My recommendation for you is to give the credit card company a call and see if they can work something out with reversing those late fees. Some companies do this as a courtesy, not continually so be careful.

Hack 6: Before you do a credit card application, check to see if you’re pre-approved first.

Applying for multiple accounts or credit cards can be fun and even more exciting if you are approved. However, you must do a credit application which results in a credit inquiry on your credit. The inquiry will lower your score by 1- 6 points. By accumulating a lot of inquiries, you can severely harm your credit score. By completing a pre-approval application, it results in a soft pull that doesn’t affect your score and generates a report to see if you are pre-selected to be approved for the application you’re applying for.

Hack 7: If you already have credit cards that offer reward points and cashback, you can use that to offset some of your expenses for the holiday season.

Most credit cards have a reward system that offers a percentage of cashback on certain transactions. This allows you to use the perks that you’ve accumulated throughout the year on your credit card to make purchases that you desire within the allotted amount.

Hack 8: Watch for fraud on your accounts. There is a higher possibility of fraudulent transactions during the holiday season.

It’s wise to monitor all your cards and bank accounts year-round. However, during the holiday season monitor everything a little closer. The prevalence of fraud occurring is heightened by 62%. By doing so, you can avoid paying for something you’re not legally liable for. Download mobile apps to get push alerts when any transaction is being done on your account. Also, you can do a security freeze on your credit profile if you want a secondary level of protection.

Aside from credit, Loren Entsuah also offers Real Estate services. Entsuah is based out of Southfield, MI. For more information, visit theefg.com.

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