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Strategies for Avoiding Holiday Debt

Pressure to spend more than we can afford can be a strong temptation during the holiday season. We all want to enjoy the festivities and take care of family and friends on our gift list. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much has been charged on the credit cards until the bills come in January. Then we struggle to pay off the debt with interest in the new year. For many people, this scenario unfortunately repeats itself every year. Here are five strategies to try that may help break that spending pattern.

How to Avoid Holiday Debt

  • Set a Gift Budget
    Determine your spending limits before shopping. Discuss them with family, if necessary, to avoid overspending. Family members may be both happy and relieved to agree to lower gift amounts.
  • Plan Purchases in Advance
    Shopping without a list can lead to expensive impulse purchases. Shoppers can easily get caught up in the frenzy of the season. Giving advanced thought to what the intended recipient may want or need may result in a more meaningful gift that won’t be returned after the holidays. Try purchasing gifts from your list throughout the year when they are on sale, and then set them aside for the holidays.
  • Compare Prices
    Sometimes what seems like a good deal may not be. Compare advertised prices among stores and online sources to find the best price for an item. When comparing online prices, don’t forget to factor in the shipping costs. Order early to avoid paying for expedited shipping.
  • Avoid Using Credit Cards
    Leave the credit cards at home and pay for purchases with cash. It’s easier to avoid an extravagant purchase when it’s paid for with cash from your wallet. Consider opening a savings account early in the year that will be earmarked for holiday purchases. Set aside a little each month or from each paycheck. A small amount will probably not be missed and can add up to a substantial nest egg by the time the holidays roll around.
  • Consider Working a Seasonal Job
    Many retailers hire part-time seasonal help for the holidays. Working some nights and weekends for a few weeks can help cover those extra expenses of holiday gifts and travel.
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