Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyers Suggest Swapping Cash for Credit to Save on Gift Giving This Summer

June is a sneaky month.

It holds no major holiday, no income tax payments, no back-to-school shopping, but somehow it always costs me an arm and a limb. Just as I've finished paying off my Christmas shopping damages, I get bombarded with graduations, bridal showers, weddings, Father's Day and birthday after birthday (seriously, does everyone in my family have a birthday between May and July?). If I was a parent, I'm sure I'd also be dealing with out-of-school kids clamoring for a vacation and trips to the amusement park (oh wait, that's the job of my significant other!). Goodbye, relaxing summer.

That's the bad news. Here's the good news. I've finally learned to expect this rash of warm-weather expenses, which means I've been able to plan for it. Anticipating the spending spree hasn't entirely eliminated the pain, but it's helped a lot. I know because I haven't added to my debt. What's the secret? I've been using cash, not credit.

It's easy to throw stuff into the shopping cart when you don't have to worry about the price tag. (Designer briefcase for the college grad? Fancy wine glasses for the happy couple? Sure, why not - it's going on the card, right?). It can add up quick and leave you short on your own bills. But if you give yourself a cash allowance each month, you'll know your limitations and plan accordingly. That's the theory, anyway.

And this isn't just a June strategy - it works year-round. When you get your paycheck, set aside the amount you need for the bills - your mortgage, utilities, cable, phone, any other debts, etc. - then look at what's left over. Your goal is to spend that amount or less, not more as most folks end up doing when they rely on plastic. Unless you have unusually strong willpower (you can count me out) take some of that amount out as cash. Keep it in your wallet, or if you really don't trust yourself, in an envelope in your house. This is your spending money - your own personal allowance. When it's gone, you can't buy anything else.

When my brother graduated from college early this month, I gave him straight cash - and only what I could afford. I didn't have to worry about overspending my budget and I knew it was something he would actually use. By the time I attended my cousin's bridal shower this month, I was running low on funds. So I got together with my mom, wrote down all our family recipes onto pretty index cards and bound them together. Other than the inexpensive cards, it was a free gift. And unlike a big expensive cookbook from the store, I know she'll use my gift because it actually has meaning.

Of course, you'll have to come up with your own gift-giving traditions. But for more summer spending tips, why not check out our Give Yourself a Raise flyer? It's free when you order the DebtStoppers Financial Toolkit. Worried that you're already in over your head? It's never too late! Try our free one-on-one debt analysis, an hour of financial help from a DebtStoppers bankruptcy attorney in Chicago or Atlanta. You've got enough to worry about this summer. Why not take a vacation from your debt - for good?

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