6 Ways to Avoid Holiday DebtThe holiday shopping season is in full swing, and consumers expected to spend an average of almost $700 on gifts, according to the National Retail Federation. During the holiday season, we can get so caught up in the fun of shopping and gift giving, we forget how much it all costs. The worst holiday gift is receiving a credit card statement showing $5,000 in extra credit card debt from holiday shopping.
To help avoid this common pitfall, MainStreet found six easy, painless ways to help you avoid holiday debt.
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Cut Up Credit CardsAn easy way to curb your spending is to spend within your means. Leave your credit cards at home and use cash instead. At some point, you’ll run out of cash, which will force you to stop shopping, whereas with credit cards there are no boundaries before you max out. According to Moreplace Market, 40% of consumers plan to ditch their credit cards this holiday season and use cash only. This way, you won’t have to worry about getting into debt, credit card interest rates and late fees. Remember, cash is king!
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Make a BudgetIf you haven’t done so already, try to determine a reasonable budget for holiday gifts this year. If you can afford to spend $500 to fulfill your holiday shopping needs, then set aside $500 in cash. Just make sure you still have the cash to pay your regular monthly expenses.
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Get Free ShippingWhen shopping online, you shouldn’t have to pay for shipping. There are plenty of free shipping options left in time for Christmas, and according to Shop.org, 85% of retailers are offering free shipping this holiday season. For free shipping coupon codes, visit FreeShippingCoupons.com, and check out this MainStreet slideshow for even more shipping deals this season.
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Bargain Hunt!Regardless of what you’re buying, always ask a seller, “Can you do better on the price?” The worst he or she can say is “no” and of course you have nothing to lose. Even if you don't get a discount, you may be able to get some freebies on the side. If you’re buying a cell phone, see if the merchant will throw in a free case or an extra charger - you may be surprised at what you can get if you just ask.
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Use Your iPhoneNo one wants (or has the time) to thumb through the newspaper and clip coupons, so use your iPhone to find them instead. Download the iPhone apps Yowza!!, MobiQpons and SaveBenjis. Here’s how they work: Find the coupon using the app and a barcode will appear on the screen of the iPhone. Show the coupon to your cashier, who will scan the barcode on your iPhone and give you the discount – no printing required.
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Right before Black Friday, TJ Maxx tweeted a deal for an Apple iPad for $399 ($100 off the retail price of $499). If you didn’t catch that tweet, you missed out on a great deal. The National Retail Federation says that 22% of retailers plan to use Twitter to reveal sales and discounts to consumers! Also, be sure to follow the airlines on Twitter to find the best airline deals: @JetBlueCheeps, @USAirways, @Delta, @UnitedAirlines, @AmericanAir.
For more airline deals, check out MainStreet's deal section.
Scott Gamm is the founder of HelpSaveMyDollars.com. He has appeared on NBC’s TODAY, MSNBC, Fox Business, Fox News, ABC News and CBS.
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More Smart Spending Tips
Wondering how to pay for your holiday shopping this year? MainStreet has all the tips you need to do it right.
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