Dealing With Financial Anxiety Around the Holidays

Between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, the holiday season can bring with it an abundance of opportunities for shopping and gift buying. This time of the year can be exciting and joyful, but it can also be stressful. If you are facing financial difficulty, the added pressure of holiday shopping can create anxiety and increase the strain on already burdened financial resources. While you may not be able to eliminate all of your holiday stress, you can make some smart money choices to alleviate financial stress. Here are six ways to get through the holidays without breaking the bank.

 

  1. Create a Budget

Review your income and your expenses and see how much wiggle room you have to fit in holiday spending. Figure out what you are willing to spend on gifts, food, and decorations and then decide if this matches your budget. It can be helpful to allot a specific amount of money for each item on your list. Determine how much you can afford to spend on each person and on your other holiday items. This can help you avoid overspending and keep you on track to meet your daily financial obligations.

 

  1. Don’t Buy It If You Can’t Afford It

We’ve all been there: you have the perfect gift in mind for your loved one, but the price tag gives you pause. Every year, parents dip into emergency savings or retirement plans, maxing credit cards and cutting corners in order to give their children a fantastic holiday. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t afford to purchase a gift without borrowing money from another account or taking out a loan, it’s best not to make the purchase. After all, going into debt is going to be more detrimental to your loved ones than skipping a few presents under the tree.

 

  1. Plan Your Shopping

Whether you are at the grocery store or the mall, it is a good to have a clear idea of what you intend to buy before you get there. Create a list of what you want to buy and who you are buying it for. This will prevent you from making unnecessary purchases or spending beyond your allotted budget. Impulse purchases can add up over time to completely ruin the budget you have established for yourself. If you know what you need and how much you are willing to spend on it, you can’t fall prey to holiday consumer tricks.

 

  1. Be Creative With Your Gifts

Your gifts can still be thoughtful without an exorbitant price tag. If your crafty, put your creative skills to good use and make some handmade presents customized for your loved ones. DIY gifts can be very meaningful for your loved ones without breaking your budget. If arts and crafts aren’t your thing, you can give the gift of your time. Cooking a meal, cleaning a house, a night of babysitting, a movie night on the couch—these thoughtful gifts can mean everything to your loved ones and likely won’t cost you a thing.

 

  1. Talk To Your Loved Ones

Discuss what the meaning of the season is for your loved ones. You may not have the financial resources of others close to you. While it might be a bit uncomfortable, take the time to set reasonable and realistic boundaries with family where your finances are concerned. Gift spending limits and spreading holiday cooking responsibilities evenly amongst family members can save you a lot of headache and disappointment later on. Your family should know what to expect from you this holiday season and you should not feel ashamed to set reasonable financial boundaries with your loved ones.

 

  1. Start Saving For Next Year Now

Yes, really. The earlier you can start preparing for the holiday season, the better! Once you get through this year’s shopping list, start looking towards next year. If you start saving in January, you’ll have a better chance of getting through the holidays without stressing out so much about how holiday spending will impact your bottom line. Create a holiday savings plan and start putting a little bit of money away every week. By this time next year, you will have a substantial budget to work with.

 

It’s very easy to be swept away by the magic of the season and forget the reality of your bank account. But keep in mind that the holiday season isn’t supposed to be about new gadgets and shiny packages. The holiday season is a time to focus on quality time with loved ones and reflect on the previous year. With some diligent planning and financial creativity, you can get through the holidays without going into debt and still enjoy the spirit of the season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Gift Cards

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There’s no question that at some point during your life you’ve struggled to come up with a gift idea for someone in your life. Whether that person is a loved one or someone you barely know, the go-to gift in this case is usually a gift card. They’re quick and easy to purchase, versatile, and satisfying to most gift recipients.

Some years, you yourself may feel inundated with gift cards. If this year was one of those years and you’re buried in a heap of gift cards, we’ve got some tips for you. If your free money is burning a hole in your pocket, read through to the end of our blog post before you give in to that spending temptation.

According to the National Retail Foundation’s holiday projections, over half of all consumers surveyed reported that they expected to give at least several gift cards as Christmas presents. The average person has approximately $300 worth of gift cards in their possession immediately after the holiday season. When that’s the case, self-control and intelligence comes in handy in order to get the most bang for your buck.

Tip #1: Check the balances. Before you launch into a spending frenzy, make sure you know the exact balances on each gift card. This helps prevent overspending and surprises at the checkout counter. After the holidays, the last thing you need is an expense you weren’t expecting. There are various ways you can check your gift card balances:

  • Call the number on the back of the gift card.
  • Search the company online and visit their website. Most stores will have link to check your gift card balance, like this one at Kohls.com.

Tip #2: Wait for the sales. Just as you should when using your own money, wait for a sale when preparing to use your gift cards unless you need an item ASAP. If it’s a pleasure item you’re coveting, like that fresh pair of sneakers you’ve had your eye on or a new smart watch, wait until the price drops.

While there are some companies and certain products that rarely (if ever) go on sale, many items will go on sale regularly. The key is to muster up enough self control to wait for deals like “buy one, get one free” or a percentage off. Your patience will pay off when you’re able to get the most out of your gift card(s) and are able to avoid spending any of your own money.

Tip #3: Trade, sell, or exchange. It’s rare that you’ll receive a gift card that doesn’t suit your personal taste, but if you don’t expect to ever use a card you’ve been gifted, there is a growing market wherein you can sell or trade your unwanted gift card. You probably won’t get 100% of what the gift card is worth, but the more popular the store and gift card, the more your card will be worth in trade. On sites such as Card Kangaroo and CardCash, you can trade or exchange electronic gift cards and even partially used gift cards. Right before the holiday season begins is the prime time to unload the gift cards from your hands, but immediately after the holidays is a close second.

Tip #4: Stock up for next year. If you aren’t a planner, here is a good opportunity to get a jump start on next year’s gifts, whether for birthdays, house-warming, baby showers, Christmas and more. If you aren’t fond of the gift card that you were given, you can easily re-gift it to someone else. Just make sure it’s not back to the same person or someone in the same family.

Gift cards can easily burn a hole in your pocket until you have given in and spent them all. This is where wisdom, self-control, and patience are key. Be intelligent about when and how you spend your gift card(s). By taking your time waiting for the right sale, you’ll be able to get the biggest bang possible out of any gift card(s) you received!

5 Ways to Get Caught Up on Bills After the Holidays

 

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Just as a little too much partying on New Year’s Eve can leave you with a painful hangover — a little too much spending during the holiday season can result in a financial hangover. Unfortunately, the latter can’t be cured by drinking plenty of water and getting some extra rest.

When your out-of-town loved ones have gone back home and the decorations are starting to come down, credit card debt and crumbling finances can be a cold, unwelcome reality check. While we want our holiday memories to last a lifetime, holiday debt is something we’d really rather not think about. Avoiding the truth about how much you really spent on gifts for all and sundry won’t make the problem disappear; what it will do is snowball the interest and late fees.

5 effective ways to begin tackling your excessive holiday spending:

 

  1. Assess the Situation/Make a Plan

Tackling excessive debt is anything but fun, but it can’t be avoided. Begin by looking over all of your banking statements and making sure that you agree with all listed charges. Then, make a list of your debts from smallest to largest (based on total amount) to get an idea of  how much you’re in the hole for. Next, create a list of their interest rates from highest to lowest.

Once you have a clear picture of what you’re dealing with, choose either the Snowball or Avalanche debt repayment strategy and start working on the plan of your choice ASAP.

 

  1. Return, Return, Return

Did you end the holiday season with scads of decorations, gifts, or other items that were never even opened? Perhaps you bought gifts for a friend’s significant other only to discover that they broke up in November. Maybe you lost self-control and brought home that ridiculously overpriced holiday decoration you’ve coveted for months.

Do not hesitate — GO NOW, this minute, to return any still-in-box, tagged items. If you are able to get your money back – put it to good use by making an extra credit card payment before you have a chance to buy something else you don’t need. Without a receipt? Use store credit to buy something you’d purchase anyway, like home goods or diapers.

 

  1. Work to Cut Regular Monthly Spending

If you have assessed your budget and concluded that there isn’t enough money left over each month to pay off your credit card debt, then reducing your monthly expenses is a must. Chances are, you have at least some recurring monthly payments that could be eliminated or decreased. Try calling your cell phone provider or cable company to see if they have any New Year’s offers or plans that would be cheaper than what you’re currently paying. Be sure to mention that you’ll have to change providers if they can’t lower your monthly bill.

Look around for a new (lower) quote on home and car insurance. Keep searching until you find a company that has the coverage you need and is willing to work with your budget.

Lastly, assess any larger loans you’re currently repaying (mortgage, home equity, education). Consider refinancing or modifying some or all of those more substantial loans. Every dollar you decrease your monthly payments by can go directly toward paying off credit card debt.

 

  1. No Credit Diet

Until you have that credit card debt completely paid off, we strongly recommend putting yourself and your family members on a “no credit diet.” When you purchase anything, use debit cards, cash or write a check (ancient, but still better than spending money you don’t have). Using these forms of payment will avoid racking up any more credit card debt.

 

holiday spending

 

  1. Every Dollar Counts

Everyone has some expenses that could be considered “flexible” – grocery bills, clothing, entertainment, recreation, and more. Determine what items in your budget are ‘must-haves’ and what you or your family could go without.


In short: Evaluate your spending habits and start making better choices until they become habits.


Example: When you’re tempted to buy that five dollar cup of coffee, think about how quickly your coffee habit could put a dent in your debt. Bonus: Getting off caffeine (or reducing your intake) is good for your blood pressure!

We’ve given you a few ways to start lowering that holiday debt that you had so much fun charging last year. Take the tips that work for you and add your own debt pay-down tricks into the mix.


One caveat: If your holiday debt goes far beyond just the recent holidays, and you’re finding your monthly minimums are more than you can handle, regular debt pay-down strategies probably won’t get you very far. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.


When you’re so far behind on your bills that they just keep piling up, unpaid, on your kitchen table, it’s time to ask for professional help. Call Veitengruber Law. We will provide you with a holistic analysis of your debt and tailored solutions that will get you “back in black.”

The best part about reaching out to us for help?  The first meeting’s on us.

What Everyone Should Know About Black Friday (and Cyber Monday)

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Since its inception well over half a decade ago, the day after Thanksgiving has morphed into a spectacular affair for retailers across the country. As the unofficial start to the December holiday season, “Black Friday” sees merchants everywhere offering irresistible deals on desirable, giftable items in an attempt to attract as many customers as possible.

Store owners rely on big sale numbers on Black Friday because literal millions of shoppers brave the crowds that day, ready and eager to make purchases. The Thanksgiving four-day weekend also kicks off the biggest shopping season of the year. Last year, consumers shelled out a staggering $655 billion between Thanksgiving and the end of the calendar year!

With these mind-blowing statistics in mind, what will you be doing on Black Friday this year? If you have plans to shop in store(s), keeping the following things in mind as you do so will ensure that you get the biggest bang for your buck.

Plan ahead

Scour all of the advertisements that interest you and make a list of stores you want to visit, and in what order. A great way to get the most up-to-date special offers is to follow your favorite retailers on social media.

Do ample research

In tandem with planning ahead, be sure to research store hours, specific sale “start times,” and what part of the store your desired item(s) are located.

Limit purchases to “doorbusters”

Don’t get sucked in by other, much smaller sales while you’re out shopping. Stay focused on the deals that will save you the most money, and avoided the temptation to toss impulse buys into your cart.

Be aware of stores that price match

If you plan on visiting a retailer that offers price matching, be sure to bring along the advertisements from their competitor(s) that are relevant.

If shopping with credit, use a card that offers rewards

Racking up a ton of debt that you won’t be able to repay after the holidays is definitely not advised. However, if you have the cash to be able to pay off your credit card bill in full in the new year, be sure that you’re being rewarded for using credit. Use a card that offers cash back to make your Black Friday deals that much sweeter.

Keep all receipts

While it goes without saying, keeping receipts for all of your holiday spending is important for two reasons. First: you’re going to be gifting many (if not all) of the items you purchase on Black Friday – so be sure to ask for gift receipts where appropriate. Second: if you need to make a return for any reason, it’s always easier with a receipt. Since you’re doing more shopping than usual, keep all holiday receipts in a designated location.

When Black Friday ends, remember – that doesn’t mean the deals have to end. Most retailers are offering “Black Friday” deals that run all weekend long – and some last even longer. Cyber Monday will see another spike in awesome price drops online. In fact, many deals that are offered on Black Friday in stores will also be available online, too.

If you’re solely shopping online this year, be sure that you only shop on secure websites with the https prefix. Do not enter your credit card information on any site that isn’t secure or that feels sketchy in any way.

 

 

Holiday Shopping When You’re Flat Broke

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Regardless of what holiday(s) you celebrate in December (Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannukah), it’s traditional to exchange gifts with friends and family. It’s undoubtedly quite a magical time of year with gift giving adding to the excitement in the air. Finding yourself low on funds around the holidays can be stress-inducing, but you can enjoy the holiday season without spending a ton of money or ending up with a load of credit card debt.

First, it’s crucial to remember that the holiday spirit comes from within. Start the holiday season right by decorating your home while blasting Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate. If you don’t have a ton of decorations, you can create your own using recycled materials, which is another great way to get into the holiday spirit!

As many Americans have noted in recent years, Christmas has morphed into a new holiday called Giftmas, with a bright spotlight on way too many presents. To help your family take a step away from the materialistic focus, start a tradition (or several) that’ll be a great experience for your family without costing much.

Inexpensive or free holiday ideas include:

Volunteer to help those less fortunate than you. Not only is this an incredible bonding experience, it helps children (and adults) put everything into proper perspective. While your family may be struggling financially this year, there are plenty of others who are much, much worse off.

Do something, (anything) fun that doesn’t cost a lot of money. Have a Christmas picnic (if you live somewhere warm), have a movie night, play board games as a family, make holiday treats together, drive around town to enjoy all of the Christmas lights, go out for Chinese food, etc. You get the idea. Find a low-cost idea that makes your family happy, and enjoy the heck out of it.

Give homemade gifts. If your extended family members are also into the idea of saving money this holiday season, consider exchanging thoughtful presents that you each make by hand. You can use recyclable materials combined with some affordable supplies from the craft store. Not only does this save money, but these are often the gifts that people treasure above all others because they come from the heart.

Gift your services or expertise. If you possess a special skill (like knitting, woodworking, sewing or painting), give the gift of your services free of charge. Also consider offering your physical help to someone less able-bodied – (like help with grocery shopping, gardening, doing home repairs or walking their dog). Hiring someone to help out with these tasks can be expensive, so offering your services free of charge can mean a lot.

If you have some money in your budget and do plan to do some holiday shopping, save money by using DIY wrapping paper from materials you already have lying around. Stick to buying one gift per person when possible, but make it a meaningful gift, like a luxurious pen, personalized ear buds, a cozy blanket or a meaningful piece of jewelry.

Since it’s so easy to let holiday shopping get out control once you start, make a list of everyone you intend to buy a gift for and keep track of what you buy. In doing so, you won’t wake up one day in January to a massive holiday hangover without an easy cure.

Image credit: William Ross

Friday Five: Cures for Your Holiday Spending Hangover

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Today on the Veitengruber Law Blog, we bring you another Friday Five. Our topic this Friday is getting out from under all of the debt that you may have acquired during the recent holiday season. Let’s face it: every year we vow to spend less next year, but when “next year” rolls around, it’s very difficult to resist showering our friends and family with prodigious piles of presents!

It’s great fun watching the excited expressions on our gift recipients’ faces, but come January, our own features scrunch into scowl lines and frowns as the credit card bills arrive in the mailbox. Rather than simply paying the minimum balances due and hitting the mental “Ignore” button, here are five proactive things you can do to pay off your holiday debt sooner rather than later:

  1. Suspend your spending: This has to be priority numero uno. Until you’ve paid your holiday credit card balances off, spend money only on necessities. Remember all of the gifts your friends and family showered you with, and enjoy them instead of buying more “stuff.” If it helps, set a goal and reward yourself: as soon as your holiday debt is gone, you can buy yourself something you’ve been coveting (within reason).

  2. Cut up your cards: For many people, getting those credit cards out of sight is imperative. If you really don’t trust yourself not to use them, by all means, cut them up and get back to using real money only. You might also benefit from simply taking the card(s) out of your wallet and putting them someplace safe in your house. This way, you’ll still have them if an emergency situation arises, but you won’t be able to make in-store impulse purchases.

  3. Make molehills out of mountains: In other words, focus on the card with the highest interest rate first. The higher the interest rate, the more you’ll end up owing on that balance, so it’s best to get it as low as you can, and quickly. Keep paying the minimum amounts due on any other cards while you tackle them in order of their interest rates.

  4. Return and be refunded: It may not be the most socially acceptable thing to do, but if you were gifted anything that you simply don’t like or won’t use – find out if you can return it! Even if the gift-giver didn’t include a receipt, you can often find out where an item was purchased, in which case many stores will give you gift cards rather than cash. Use these gift cards to buy things you need, which will free up more of your money for paying down your credit card balances.

  5. Bang out a budget: While it may seem like common sense, it’s often the simplest ideas that succeed. As you get close to paying off last year’s holiday spending debt, look ahead to the next holiday season. Something as easy as buying one gift card every time you get paid can make a big difference. (And who doesn’t like receiving gift cards these days?)

By putting these five simple tips into action, you will be able to get your holiday debt paid off in a reasonable amount of time, freeing up that money for living life! Planning ahead will mean that next year at this time, you’ll hopefully be able to pay off your holiday spending in a much shorter time frame.

Image credit: Quint Cobb

Got Gift Cards? Spend them Wisely This Year

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Gift cards truly are the gift that keeps on giving. More gift cards were purchased this year than ever before – nearly $32 billion worth! When surveyed, 80% of shoppers had plans to buy and give gift cards this holiday season.

So, chances are good that you’re going to be on the receiving end of at least one of these little beauties.

You know that giddy feeling of suddenly having a bunch of “money” to spend in your favorite store(s). Gift cards give you the freedom to basically shop for your own Christmas gifts – and they’re slightly less tacky than giving cash, so more people are reaching for them. Consumers report feeling better about gifting someone with a gift card than with something totally useless.

Believe it or not, retailers absolutely LOVE selling gift cards, for several reasons. Oftentimes, the recipient forgets about the card altogether. Some people receive cards for stores that are simply too far away from their homes. Some gift cards have “inactivity fees” that gradually lower the card’s value over time. Unfortunately, some gift cards are lost or even stolen. All of these variables add up to bigger profits for retailers.

This year, if you’re the recipient of one or more gift cards, there are some things you can do to use your it wisely. First of all, make sure you register it as soon as you can. This will protect the balance if you do happen to lose it or it becomes stolen. If your gift card is stolen, report the theft directly to the issuer right away. If you’re lucky, they may replace the card. Sometimes this requires a small replacement fee.

Always treat a gift card just like cash money. Your best bet is to use them sooner rather than later so that you don’t end up losing them or forgetting about them.

What is an e-gift card?

Many retailers are now offering electronic gift cards. These are becoming more popular because they can be purchased online, allowing consumers to do even more of their holiday shopping from the comfort of their own homes. An electronic gift card works just like the plastic kind – the only difference being that they’ll be emailed and printed rather than purchased in a brick and mortar establishment.

E-gift cards can be used online or in stores, and they are much harder to lose since they will be sitting in your email inbox rather than – wait, where did you put that thing, again?

Over a billion dollars worth of gift cards go unused every single year. That’s a lot of money that’s just going straight back into retailers’ bank accounts. Just as you wouldn’t keep a fifty dollar bill in your wallet without ever spending it, don’t let your gift cards go to waste either. Happy shopping!

Image Credit: Kool Cats Photography

How to Get Out of Holiday Debt for Good

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So many people have a tendency to hugely overspend on friends and family during the holiday season – charging hundreds to thousands of dollars on credit cards. The holiday hangover comes in January when the bill start rolling in.

In fact, countless people are still paying off holiday debt from years past [PLURAL]. However, it does not have to be that way! There are steps that you can take to reduce your overall credit debt and specifically, your impulsive holiday spending spree. Facing pressure from children, friends and family members, more and more people are spending higher dollar amounts during the holidays in order to get the gift that everyone wants. You are not alone, and there is hope!

The first step to eliminating the extra credit card balances that you racked up in November and December, is to admit that you have a problem. Put the credit cards down. Take them out of your wallet and put them in a place where you can’t easily access them. Start using your debit card for all shopping so that you are forced to use only the money that you actually have in your bank account. To continue using your credit cards after December will only compound the problem.

Sit down and open up all of your credit card bills. This may be a difficult and emotional step, but ignoring the bills will not make them disappear. List all of your credit cards, their balances, their percentage rates, and the minimum monthly payments. Determine how much money you can allocate toward credit card payments each month.

One effective debt reducing method is tackling the credit card with the highest balance first. In doing so, you will eliminate your biggest money suck, and you will have more money to throw at your remaining cards. During this phase, pay only the minimum on any other credit cards. This is known as debt stacking, and will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Another option is to pay off the card with the smallest balance first, working your way up to the card with the highest balance. Debt snowballing gives consumers a quick taste of success with the first card paid off quickly, which may be the motivation you need to keep going.

It’s also a good idea to call up your credit card company in an attempt to negotiate a lower percentage rate (APR). Use language like, “In an effort to reduce my bills, is there any way to lower my interest rate in order to help me pay this debt off?” Avoid telling them that you can’t pay your bill. You can also look for offers from credit card companies offering 0% interest for balance transfers. By transferring your highest balance onto this card, you’ll save on interest payments and will be able to pay your debt off that much faster.

Find one or two expenses that you can eliminate in order to push that money towards eliminating your holiday debt. Call your gym and ask about freezing your monthly membership. Alternatively, find a cheaper gym. Talk to your cable or satellite provider about lowering your monthly payment by stepping down to a lower package temporarily. You can reward yourself by reinstating your original package once your debt is paid down. Resolve to not purchase any new clothing or unnecessary items until you have managed to eradicate your holiday debt. Check out local thrift shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army if a need arises like an outfit for a job interview or a warmer winter coat. Remember to check eBay and Craigslist for other absolute necessities that may arise during your debt elimination period.

If all of these changes aren’t making a big enough dent in your holiday debt, you may have to find another way to make additional money, at least temporarily. Have a yard sale, or scour your house for any valuable items that may be in demand and try your hand at eBay. You may have jewelry, art or expensive clothing that is just sitting around the house. It’s better to sell some things than risk going into further debt and not being able to find your way out.

Finally, remember that there will be another holiday season at the end of 2014. The sooner you start planning for it, the better. As soon as your previous year’s holiday debt is wiped out, set up a holiday budget and start taking notice of what your friends and family are interested in now. Buying slowly throughout the year, while looking for sales and using coupons and promo codes, will allow you to shop for the holidays with cash, hopefully avoiding a holiday hangover in 2015.

Stay Debt-Free This Holiday Season!

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Although you may be tempted to overindulge in more ways than one this holiday season, it’s important to keep your spending under control so that you don’t end up with credit card bills that you can’t afford in 2013. Spending the whole year watching your budget closely will get you nowhere if you allow the holiday season to tempt you into buying more than you can really afford in December. With all of the credit options offered by stores and credit card companies, many people are lured into buying gifts that are way above their spending limit.

Use our holiday buying guide so that you’ll be able to give gifts to everyone on your list without going broke.

  •  Use your skills wisely, and learn how to make something! While this may not be appropriate for everyone on your list, you may be able to create beautiful gifts for several people, saving you a respectable amount of money.
  •  Stop at one. The holiday season has gotten out of control for millions of Americans, which has resulted in giving multiple gifts to multiple people every single year, which simply isn’t necessary. Most people on your list will be more than happy to receive one gift from you. If you find something that is “perfect for them” after you have already gotten them a gift, fight the urge to buy it. Remind yourself that ending the holidays swimming in debt really isn’t worth getting someone just one more gadget.
  •  Set aside money for holiday spending. Start a Christmas savings account early each year so that when you begin your Christmas shopping you will be able to spend actual money instead of  “credit”, which is really just a loan. By spending money from your Christmas savings account, you avoid the expensive finance costs charged by credit card companies. Remember, if your credit card balances get too high, your credit scores will plummet.
  •  Pay off any credit card balances immediately. If you do end up putting some of your Christmas purchases onto a credit card, keep it to the bare minimum. Pay off your credit card balance as soon as you have the cash available.  After the holidays, emergencies can arise that prevent people from paying off their balances, which then turn into mountainous piles of debt that they can’t handle. Avoid this by paying the balance sooner rather than later.
  •  Set a spending budget. Before you make even one holiday purchase, write out a list of people that you must shop for and how much money you can afford to spend. Stay within your budget by looking for sales, using coupons and promo codes, making a few gifts, and shopping in-store instead of online to avoid pricey shipping costs.
  •  Shop online if it helps keep you in line. Some people tend to spend more money if they shop in-store because of a phenomenon caused by actually seeing and touching products. If shopping virtually helps you stick to your budget, look for online stores that offer free or affordable shipping.

Unfortunately, some people find themselves in dire financial straits after the holidays even with the best laid plans. If this has happened to you, seek help for debt relief before it gets out of control and you find yourself in over your head.  A qualified bankruptcy attorney who specializes in credit repair can help you by introducing you to all of your resources to get your debt numbers lowered as fast as possible, so that you can avoid getting phone calls from collections agencies. He or she can also teach you how to plan better for next year so this doesn’t happen again.