If you aren't smart about holiday spending, you could find yourself in trouble before the gifts are unwrapped and the icing dries on the cookies.
You can avoid financial mishaps by using simple spending strategies for this year's shopping season:
* Create a spending plan --
To track expenses you need a budget: Who are you buying for? How much will you spend on each individual? Have specific gifts in mind.
* Shop before leaving home --
Comparison shop online to find which stores carry the items you're looking for and the best price. Flag items in flyers and catalogs and bring with you to the store.
* Limit time at the mall --
Shop during lunch hours or during your child's basketball practice so you don't have "too" much time.
* If you use a credit card, be committed --
Ideally don't charge more than you can pay off when the bill arrives. If that's not possible, don't charge more than you can pay off in the first quarter of next year.
* Beware store cards --
These cards generally have higher interest rates than general use credit cards.
* Disregard "buy now, pay later" --
It's easy to bring a big purchase home without much thought when you don't have to pay for it for six months. Be cautious: If you don't pay off the item by the due date, you'll be socked with outrageous interest expenses.
And a final tip is to start preparing for next year's holiday shopping soon. Coosa Pines FCU offers Christmas Club accounts that you can open and keep open with as little as $5.00. Call or stop by your favorite branch for details.
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