Make Ends Meet: Keeping good credit through the holiday shopping season

It is hard to think about being debt-free and remembering what you spend matters in the long term when you are caught up in the spirit of giving for holidays.
Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 9:45 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - When you ring in the holiday this season you do not want to ring up big bills and credit card debt.

It is hard to think about being debt-free and remembering what you spend matters in the long term when you are caught up in the spirit of giving for the holidays.

Rod Griffin is the Senior Director of Public Education for Experian. He is responsible for Experian’s national consumer education programs and supports the company’s community involvement and corporate responsibility efforts.

”When you have good credit history and good credit scores, you’re going to save money,” Griffin said.

When your credit history and credit scores are good your financial life goes in the same direction, good. From everything from mortgage or loan applications to credit cards “good” on your credit score or credit history gets you more.

”Having a strong credit history is one of the keys to being financially successful,” Griffin said. “It’s key to overcoming barriers to financial inclusion. It’s key to gaining access to lower-cost financial services and resources.”

As families get into celebrating with families and friends it is easy to spend a bit too much and find themselves in debt more than they are in holiday cheer.

“Keep a list,” Griffin said. “Check it twice. Know exactly what you’re going to buy so that you avoid that impulse buying.”

Building good credit and writing your own good credit history starts well before the stores start pulling out the holiday decorations and the sale signs start popping up in retail stores.

”When a person has balances that are more than 30% of their credit limit their risk that they default will begin to accelerate,” Griffin said. “People often don’t know what their credit limits are. It’s important to check.”

Your credit report can give you your limits, all your credit card relationships, your balances, and if your payments are being made on time. will give you a free credit report once a week. Experian’s free service will do the same, but it will share risk factors that explain what in the report is hurting your score.

”Make sure you know what’s being reported about the way you’re managing your debts,” Griffin said. “It’s about taking control of your money and not letting your money control you.”

If a good credit history with a good credit score is what you are looking for, a credit card can help you there if you use it right.

”Keep them as low as you can,” Griffin said about your credit card. “The better it will be for your credit score.”

Make sure you always make every payment on or before the due date. Payments are listed on your credit reports, and while on-time payments can help improve your credit, payments that are 30 days or more late will hurt them.

“Ideally if you can pay them in full that’s the best,” Griffin said.