Manage your personal finances after the holidays

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WASHINGTON, NC (WITN) – As holiday shopping is in full swing before Christmas, the buying of gifts can sometimes add up.

“Right now, the hot deal is buy now, pay later,” Sarah Beth Withers of Legal services of internal banks noted. “There are a lot of apps that offer it, afterpay. The interest rates on these people don’t really read the fine print so they can get in trouble.

The nonprofit law firm in downtown Washington, Beaufort County, aims to provide affordable legal services to families in the legal limbo, which Withers says is made up of people who earn between one and four times the poverty level.

“A lot of people assume they don’t qualify for our services, but we pride ourselves on providing top notch legal services at a rate most people can afford,” Withers said. “26,000 residents of Beaufort County fall into a legal vacuum. It is not a small percentage. 86% of Americans have an unmet civil legal need and we aim to fill that gap in legal services.

Withers said the biggest mistake is waiting too long to see a lawyer when there are options, such as Inner Banks Legal Services, that only charge people what they can afford. to pay.

The National Retail Federation expects this year’s holiday sales to grow as much as 11.5% compared to last year, and consumers to spend almost $ 1,000 on average for holiday gifts and other items.

Withers explained how vacation bills could pile up.

“Most people wait until it’s too late,” Withers said. “They bought and it snowballed their credit cards and all of a sudden their credit cards are all at max, or almost.”

But there are ways to manage your personal finances after the holidays.

“If you’ve already used your credit card to the max, or if you know you’ve already bought for a lot of people beyond your means, it’s probably best not to buy,” Withers said. “Maybe pulling out the art supplies, baking something, it’s always the idea that counts. It doesn’t necessarily mean the price of the gift, it’s the time together.

Withers said bankruptcy was at an all-time low, but the busiest time for them in the past was usually February, when people realized their December purchases were higher than they thought. .

However, Withers said it’s not just about shopping for the holidays.

“People don’t usually go out at Christmas and use their credit cards to the fullest, they’ve been doing it all year round,” Withers said. “They’ve snowballed and the interest rate catches up with you at some point and you can’t even make the minimum payment.”

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