Avoiding Christmas Debt

If you think September is far to early in the year to be thinking about Christmas, think again. Financial planners and debt counselors say, it's never too early to plan for Christmas...especially if you want to ring in the new year debt free. For Tiffany Britton and the folks at Carol E's on Broadway, stocking their shelves with Christmas items is old hat by now.

"We've had this out since July," says Britton.  "So we like to get an early start for all of our early shoppers."

Early Christmas shopping and following a few simple rules makes a lot of sense, when you are trying to save some cents. Start window shopping now, not necessarily to buy everything, just to get a good idea as to what kind of gifts are out there. Mull them over a little bit, make sure they are a good purchase. That way, you avoid impulse buying and thinking to yourself later, "why did I buy that?"

"We have a very low return rate too with Christmas," adds Britton.  "Because people tend to get more personal gifts, things that are more useful and they don't spend a lot of money and they have more. It's a lot more economical."

Being economical and thinking ahead is the key to the holiday season, says debt counselour Glyndel Corzine at Consumer Credit Counseling. It all comes down to making a budget.

"I would encourage everyone to make out a list of who they have to buy gifts for," says Corzine. "Approximately what they feel they can really spend on that person and start putting money aside right now."

There are exactly 14 weeks, or 98 days until Christmas day. If you save $5 a day, or $35 a week, you will have right around $500 in cash for Christmas presents. Also, be wary of store charge accounts which promise you a discount on your purchase, unless you are able to pay off the balance in full within a month or two. We all love giving and receiving Christmas gifts, planning now helps you avoid paying for them until next Christmas!