Avoid Debt This Holiday Season - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/1/04-Tyler

Avoid Debt This Holiday Season

How will you pay for your holiday gifts?

"We'll use some credit."

"Cash."

"Check, cash, or debit card."

Consumer experts say more Americans plan on saying debit it rather than charge it for holiday gift purchases this year. And that can be a good way to avoid holiday debt, but it's not fool proof.

"Some of the banks have debit cards where they will attach credit features to them that means they will let you spend more than you have in your account," says Financial Planner Neal Vasso.

It's like taking out a very expensive loan. To avoid that. Just make sure you are tracking and recording your spending.

"So as you swipe your card you go ahead and take out your note card right along with it and write down how much you spent," says Anne Scheller with Consumer Credit Counseling.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend about 220 billion dollars this holiday, up four percent from last year. And for those using credit, experts estimate it will take 5 to 6 months to pay off if not longer.

"About 57 percent of people are still paying off debts from last Christmas for this Christmas," says Vasso.

So how can you avoid that? When you can use cash. Research shows you spend more with credit than you do a check, and more when writing a check that when purchasing with cash. And to avoid debt all together, plan ahead like this shopper.

"I start early and I buy a portion every month. I set aside 40 or 50 a month and at the end of the year I am finished with no debt," says shopper Angela Ruben.

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