<b> FORT STEWART, GA </b> Aca,!aEURc In the mist of these tough economic times, you may consider the offer to skip a loan payment, credit card payment, or holiday loan as an early Christmas gift. Well think again. These offers result in more interest paid by you in the long run.

"Most people don't really understand the full effect of skipping a payment," said Harrine Freeman, a Washington, D.C.- based credit repair counselor.

When a payment is skipped and not paid toward the principle, you end up with a higher balance as the accrued interest compounds on the previous outstanding balance.

For example if you have a $5,000 credit card balance at 18 percent interest, skipping your monthly payment of $125 will result in additional interest of $75 and extend the payback one month.

Now consider the cost of a car payment, which is a depreciating asset. To compute the true cost of skipping credit card and loan payments, use the calculators at www.bankrate.com.

Avoid holiday loans through finance companies and online Internet military loans that often carry high interest rates.

Holiday loans may also be marketed by tax preparation firms in December and require only a paystub. The annual percentage rates can range from 36 percent to 768 percent for a two-week loan.

What can you do to stretch your already-tight funds' In the Army world, the post exchange is one of the best options, averaging a 20 percent savings in addition to tax-free purchases.

If you must use credit, avoid high-interest retail stores.

Come to ACS Nov. 14 and start preparing now for next year with How to Survive the Holidays Financially. We'll help you create a financial plan that can help you control your money and reach your goals Aca,!aEURc all year.

Tips and techniques will include alternatives to expensive gift-giving, preparing a holiday checklist, how to pay for the holidays, and post-holiday financial planning.

For more information or to speak with a financial counselor, call Army Community Services at 315-6816 for Hunter, or 767-5058/5059 at Stewart.

Page last updated Fri October 24th, 2008 at 17:29