Personal Finance

Shoppers Getting Smarter About Holiday Spending

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The holiday season can be a very stressful time for many consumers simply because they often feel they have to make more purchases than can fit comfortably within their usual monthly budget.

As such, many consumers say they are stressed when it comes to their holiday spending, and plan to be more conservative this year than they were in the past, according to a new survey from myFICO, a branch of the credit scoring company Fair Isaac. In all, 80 percent of consumer say they will try to keep their credit card spending at less than 25 percent of their total credit limit this holiday season.

Only 30 percent say they’re going to cut back on spending overall, and will be more conscientious in protecting their credit card accounts during this time, the report said. Further, 65 percent say they plan to charge less than $500 on those accounts, which most consider to be within their budget and not inordinate.

But at the same time, close to 25 percent of those polled said they’d spend so much this month that they would need three months or more to pay off the added balance, meaning they will likely face significant interest charges, the report said. Further, and more concerning, is that this number was up from just 18 percent in 2010.

However, while 62 percent of respondents said they were concerned about the effects of various types of fraud on their overall finances, only about 20 percent have actually done anything to increase the security of their accounts, the report said. Further, only 14 percent are concerned about the effect holiday shopping would have on their credit scores.

“While consumers are using credit cards more this year, it’s important not to get carried away,” said Anthony Sprauve, a spokesperson for myFICO. “Payment history is the most influential factor when determining an individual’s FICO Score; therefore it’s critical to pay at least the minimum amount on all credit cards every billing cycle.”

[Credit Cards: Research and compare credit cards at Credit.com.]

In fact, the ability to make on-time payments and the total amount of credit being used versus overall limits account for a combined 65 percent of a person’s total credit score, meaning that keeping these two factors under as much control as possible is of the utmost importance.

Image: Infusionsoft, via Flickr

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