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Don’t Let Overspending Spoil Your Holidays

Holiday spending can easily spin out of control, so don't let 'Ho! Ho! Ho!' turn into 'Owe! Owe! Owe!'

While it can feel great to give, it’s important to know what you can afford so you’re not stuck paying for this year’s gifts – and the interest charges – well into next year.

So how can you keep from overspending?

Set a budget and stick to it. Keep all your normal expenses in mind – such as food, utilities, other regular monthly payments – then set an affordable holiday spending limit. And don’t blow that budget!

Make a list and check it twice. Who do you want to buy gifts for? Write down ideas for each person and think about prices. Can you afford it?  A focused list can keep you from buying expensive last-minute panic items. Trim people from the list or change what you want to buy if your budget gets in trouble.

Comparison shop and look for deals. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale at the first place you look. Do some research on the Internet to see what prices are at various local or online stores. Spending a little time looking for the right offer can lead to big savings.

Be careful with your cards. Debit and credit cards are safer than carrying large amounts of cash and they have some great built-in consumer protections, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t get carried away. Overspending on your debit card can lead to overdraft fees, and overcharging on a credit card can lead to months of payments and interest charges.

Consider gift cards. Gifts cards can help you focus your costs, and even ease needless anxiety over worrying about buying the wrong gift for the right person.

Now is also the time to begin making it easier for next year.

You can start by putting money into your savings or checking account on a regular basis so you’ll be ready to give next year - without having it hurt.