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Carry Green for St. Patrick’s Day

by on March 16, 2012

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow and whether or not you’re Irish has little to do with how much you may or may not celebrate. Although only 36.9 million Americans claim Irish heritage, about 1 in 5 Americans (62.3 million) celebrate this bonny holiday by going out drinking. While St. Patty’s Day celebrations are fun, friendly affairs, they can also lead to a big surprise financially if you take your credit cards out drinking with you.

Heading out with your credit cards on St. Patrick’s Day (or really anytime you plan to party it up) is a recipe for credit disaster. You go out expecting to spend a minimal amount, only to find out when your bill shows up that you paid for pretty much the entire bar to drink all night. One night of fun can add up to a big tab and an even bigger credit card bill at the end of the month.

To avoid causing yourself a lot of unnecessary financial trouble during the festivities, here are some of the top tips from your PowerWallet team:

• Take cash with you instead of credit cards. If possible, don’t take credit cards with you at all. Take enough cash to cover what you want to drink and eat, plus any cab fare or cost for the ride home you need.

• Don’t open a tab at your table. Tabs tend to cause trouble because you invariably end up with charges you didn’t make on your bill—particularly when it comes to open tabs for a whole table. The server will take orders from anyone and put them on your bill. To avoid this, don’t open a tab for your table; either commit to buying your drinks one at a time or follow the tip below.

• Only open tabs at the bar and limit who can put things on your tab. If you do have to open a tab, do so directly at the bar and tell the bartender you’re the only one who’s going to be putting things on your tab. Depending on how busy the bar is, you may even be able to ask the bartender to let you know when you tab is getting to a certain limit so you don’t overspend.

• Always be responsible. Drinking and driving is not only dangerous and deadly, it is also extremely costly. Don’t ruin your night or anyone else by getting behind the wheel if you’re going to be drinking. Take cash for cab fare or offer to chip in a few bucks for gas if you have designated driver.

If you wake up on March 18th and you’re in doubt about whether you accidentally overspent, don’t wait until your bill comes in to get that surprise. Check your accounts to make sure you don’t have any charges on your bank or credit card accounts that you don’t exactly recollect from the night before. Also check to make sure you have all your credit and debit cards in your wallet, so you can have a little peace of mind someone didn’t get their hands on your plastic while you were celebrating.

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