"If you can save money and everything is going to debt, you're always going to be living paycheck to paycheck," Cochrane said. "How do you deal with holiday debt? Primarily, it's having a financial plan and sticking to it."
TIPS FOR MANAGING HOLIDAY EXPENSES
Create a budget and stick to it — Set a dollar amount based on what you can afford this holiday season considering your current savings, income and other expenses. Be sure to include a $20 to $100 cushion for unexpected expenses.
Make a list — Write down the names of the people you plan to buy gifts for and how much you can afford to spend on each person. Don't forget to save some of your budget for expenses other than gifts, including wrapping paper, cards and postage.
Use credit wisely — Your credit card balance shouldn't be a complete surprise when you open your statement in January. Take only the credit cards you need when holiday shopping, and try to use the card with the lowest interest rate.
Save your receipts — Keep track of your expenses and add them up weekly to be sure you are sticking to your budget. If you’re getting close to your spending limit, reevaluate your list and consider making homemade gifts to keep expenses down.
Shop around — Start your holiday shopping early to give yourself time to comparison shop. Take time to do some research before you hit the stores by going online or looking at your local newspaper circulars.
Pay bills on time — Avoid missing the due date for your credit card payments. Even if you can only pay the minimum, pay it on time.
Source: Zions Bank
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