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Eliminating Christmas debt before it starts

Maybe you make the same resolution every year: "Next year, I'm going to shop for Christmas during the year, and then relax as I glide through the holidays worry-free." Then somehow that resolution is forgotten by the time New Year's Day rolls around?

Here we are in the Christmas season again, and those of us with non-existent Christmas savings accounts are left with no option but to rely on credit cards or prolong paying them off until after the new year so we can splurge on our loved ones. Either way, it can leave us buried in debt for the new year. Here are some new tips to try:

  1. Make that list and check it twice. Put down everyone you need to buy for, and set limits on what you will spend for each. Come up with gift ideas to fit within those limits. Then don't leave your list at home when you go shopping, and be mindful to use it. Cross off each name as you go.
  2. Do not buy impulsively. If it is not planned and on your list, don't buy it. Refrain, refrain, refrain (put it to the tune of "Dashing Through the Snow" and sing often).
  3. Tune out the advertisers. This is a tough one, as our emails and social media are barraged with advertisements. Delete or scroll past them before they catch your attention. Get your mind on something else, such as volunteering, visiting friends or even reading a good book.
  4. When you have bought everything on your list, stop shopping. You've stayed within your budget, so don't blow it now by seeing a good bargain and rewarding yourself. Save the reward for next year when you will be thanking yourself for starting the year off right.

Credit card companies love to encourage us by making generous offers we can't resist. Those deals sound great until we are up to our ears in debt we can't afford.

In the unfortunate chance that happens, don't give up. Find options for debt relief, and resolve to stay on track in 2018. There are options out there, including filing for bankruptcy and starting off with a new slate.

Source: Post-Crescent, "Seven ways to avoid excessive debt at Christmas," Maureen Wallenfang, Nov. 21, 2017

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