7 On Your Side: Avoid Swiping Your Way Into Debt - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

11/27/06

7 On Your Side: Avoid Swiping Your Way Into Debt

Cristina Cope almost always swipes her debit card. No matter how small the purchase.

"Regularly I get my dry cleaning. If I go get coffee on the way home from work, or going to the grocery store just to pick up a spare item," Cristina explains.

Cristina's not alone. More of us than ever before are using credit and debit cards not just for big ticket items, but for tiny transactions as well.

In fact, a recent survey estimates customers using Visa-branded cards alone will buy 60 billion dollars worth of low-ticket items this year . That's eleven times more than in 2000.

People tend to lose track of all their little purchases and that can be dangerous.

"They add up quickly and at the end of the month you can have this very unexpectedly high bill," says Consumer Action's Linda Sherry.

And the holiday spending frenzy these next few weeks could also drain your bank account if you're not careful.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service's Glyndel Corzine says you have to have a plan.

"I encourage people to make a list of who all they have to buy for, set a limit and an idea of what you're looking for when you go," suggests Corzine.

Once you've made your list and checked it twice, use a debit card, instead of a credit card, so your accountable for the money immediately.

Plus, don't wait until the holidays to gift shop!

"You'll get frustrated and you'll spend anything to get something. Then you will spend more than maybe you really intended to," says Corzine.

Bottom line, watch how you swipe and spend.  That's what Cristina's doing.

"You have to pay vigilant attention to and check your statements all the time and keep aware of your balance and your account."

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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