The Games People Play

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As we approach the time of year where we spend a little more than we usually do, and in some cases, more than we should, let’s talk about The Games People Play.

For this post, it’s the “0% Interest Free for A Year” game. There are a number of ways this particular game can be played, and we played them for all they were worth. In the beginning, we hit the 0% rate to pay for a new freezer. Innocent enough, right?

The main rule of this game is you avoid paying any interest on the total if you pay off the entire amount within a pre-defined period of time. Typically this is a year, sometime up to 18 months. On larger purchases, like furniture sets, it can be as long as 3 years.

And this game has a fairly Las Vegas-y feel to it. You’re betting you can pay off the total amount before the period has expired. The gamble here however, is that if you’re late by a single day, the Credit Card company will charge you for ALL the interest you hoped to avoid paying.

The two aspects that give this game the ‘Vegas’ tone are simple.

  1. A gamble. You’re betting (against the house) that you can pay it off. We played that game and did fairly well, but it was close a few times.
  2. The game is rigged. If the credit card company didn’t think they’d make money on the deal, they certainly wouldn’t give you the chance.

Part of the answer this year is to have had a Holiday budget.  We contribute money each pay period to an ING Savings Account specifically for use around this time of year. As items get purchased, we mark the receipt and move the money from this account where it needs to go.

So what do you do if you if you don’t have this account?
First, set one up for next year. Do it now.  Seriously, stop reading this and do it now.  I’ll be here waiting…….

OK, now that you’re back you can still have some fun this year, but you must be a little more creative.

Books. Do you have a person who likes to read?  Hit the used book stores. You’ll find some great titles and can see and feel if they are in decent shape.  Libraries often have used books for sale as well.  Does your person have an eReader?  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple all sell ebooks that are not budget busters.

Body Care Products.  Put together a nice basket of lotions, creams, etc for the woman on your list.

Donate or Volunteer.  Gift the gift of your time.  Ask a person on your list their favorite charity.  Donate some time on their behalf.

Regifting.  Easy now.. If you’re looking to save some money, get outta debt, etc, there’s nothing wrong with regifting something you’ve received in the past.  Just make sure you’re not giving it to the person who gave it to you.. Talk about awkward.

There are a number of other things you can do this Holiday Season.

What about you? Share anything you plan on doing ‘differently’ this year

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