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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Easy Ways to Pay for the Holidays

You thought this holiday would be different. You planned only to spend a certain amount and you exceeded it. Now, you need to pay off your holiday debt. Don’t despair. You are in good company. Many Americans are in the same boat. But most importantly, there are things you can do.

Here are a few steps to help you get back on track quickly:

The first thing you need to do is find out exactly how much you owe. Go online and check your credit card balances or gather all your receipts together. Just waiting for the bills to arrive in the mail could put you further behind.

Then, determine when everything is due. If you charged most of your purchases on credit cards, find out what the minimum payment and the interest rate is.

In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with your credit card issuer to lower your rate or give you a promotional package.

Then, try to make cut backs over the next few weeks or months, or however long it may take you to get caught up. Make a list of everything you spend discretionary money on each week. The list may include:

o Dining or Lunching Out

o Vending Machines

o Pizza Delivery

o Car Washes

o Video Rentals and Movies

o Coffee Shops

o Extra snacks

o Brand named goods

Besides cutting back, you may want to also consider the following:

_ Focus on paying off the highest-rate card first. Pay as much as you can each month while making only minimum payments on your other cards.

_ Automate your current minimums or make every effort to avoid late payments. Otherwise, you’ll get slapped with hefty late fees and penalty rates as high as 30 percent, and your credit score will take a hit.

_ Go in order. When the first card is paid off, use the same strategy on the next highest rate card and so on until you’re debt free.

Once your holiday debt is all paid off, you may want to reward yourself with something very inexpensive.

As you reflect on the total amount of money you owe due to overspending during the holidays, consider creating a holiday budget for the upcoming year to avoid future financial burden.

And remember, it’s the thought behind the gift that counts, not the amount of money you spend!

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.