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10 Ways to Stop Holiday Over-Spending

We’ve all been there: The shock of opening up the first credit card bill after Christmas. How did those expenses pile up so quickly and so high?

The good news is you still have plenty of time to get control of your holiday spending and make sure your January is just as happy as your December.

1. First establish your total budget for holiday spending RIGHT NOW. Estimate how much you can afford to spend, and set that figure as your TOTAL expense goal.

2. Make a list and check it twice. Do you really need to buy gifts for everyone on your list? Distant relatives would be happy with a card and a personal note, and coworkers with a potluck.

3. Make your holiday and gift list and stick to it. Establish a dollar budget for each person, and remember to include the cost of wrapping and shipping. Don’t forget to include any charitable donations, holiday meals, entertaining, gasoline, travel, and postage. And don’t go over your budget!

4. Resist those impulse buys. Stick to your plan! When you go into a store, purchase only what’s on your list.

5. Shop smart. Look for coupons, comparison price shop, use any unused credits you might have at retailers, and watch the ads.

6. Use a specially designated debit card just for holiday shopping. Load up your debit card with the amount you want to spend this season. Use it for all your purchases—that way you won’t overspend.

7. Don’t sign up for special financing plans or new credit cards. Additional store credit cards will only make overspending easier, as will 0% down and payment plans. Remember that at the end of the day, you still have to pay for your purchase!

8. Keep track of your spending. A simple list, or a notebook you can carry with you, will make it easier to keep notes on what you’re spending through the season.

9. Use your free time and recreation wisely—don’t hang out in the mall, or go shopping “just to look.”

10. Don’t buy just because something is on sale or heavily promoted. Unless there is something that’s on your gift list, don’t get caught up in Black Friday shopping madness!

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