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Avoid the Holiday “Comfort Shopping” Trap This Christmas

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‘Tis the season to rack up more credit card debt. Between tempting store credit card offers and irresistible sales, it’s easy for holiday shoppers to accrue more debt than they initially anticipated or even wanted.

According to 2013 research by the Federal Reserve, the average amount of credit card debt in the United States is $15,159 per household, with this figure likely to increase during the holiday season. American consumers have a whopping $11.13 trillion in debt, of which $849.8 billion is credit card debt.

While the holidays are considered the most wonderful time of year, the post-holiday season is likely to be considered the worst. After your loved ones have left, the lights are taken down, and the tree has been thrown away, consumers are faced with their grim financial reality once their bank and credit card statements arrive in the mail.

Luckily, there are several credit card debt solutions and other ways to celebrate holiday cheer.

Create a spending plan and stick to it
The pressure to overspend increases during the holiday season as consumers focus on buying the perfect gifts as a means of creating special holiday memories. However, is it worth the financial fallout? After all, it’s the thought that counts! Holiday shopping doesn’t have to wipe out your bank account. Create a budget by determining what you can realistically afford. While shopping, continue to carefully track your spending. If you need help in creating a budget, seek financial planning advice through a debt relief center or a financial planner.

Be careful with credit
When used properly credit can be helpful, however, credit card debt can quickly become a burden. While it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that credit card purchases have to be paid for eventually. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly understand your creditor’s terms and conditions, especially interest rates. Understand the consequences of missing or making late payments. Most importantly, know your credit score! Though credit card debt solutions can help you overcome debt, using credit wisely can prevent you from falling into a financial trap.

If you’re having trouble making your post-holiday payments, or are receiving debt collection calls and letters, the worst thing you can do is to ignore them. They won’t go away. In fact, your creditors will only up the ante. It’s best to contact your creditors directly in order to discuss an alternative payment arrangement. Or, work with a debt relief agency in order to explore credit card debt solutions.

Focusing on true meaning of the holiday season and honor (inexpensive!) Christmas traditions such as baking, decorating, etc. can also help you stay on track financially.

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