First Person: 5 Ways to Avoid Credit Card Debt During the Holidays

Yahoo Contributor Network

Are you a holiday shopaholic? Do you have incredible self-discipline with your monthly budget, but totally blow it out of the water when you start shopping for gifts? You are not alone!

A recent survey showed that 63% of Americans interviewed said would go beyond their holiday shopping budget if they found the perfect gift for a friend or family member. The trouble with this is that most of us whip out our credit cards and go into debt during the holidays. After too many years of making credit card payments until spring, my family decided to change how we give to each other.

How My Family Manages Holiday Spending

Set aside. Although each person in my family has their own budget, we have all developed the habit of setting money aside each week in a special savings account for holiday shopping. We start in January, so when Black Friday rolls around, we already have a tidy sum of money for shopping.

Make a list. We make a list of everyone we intend to gift and predetermine how much to spend on each person. Some of us have overspent in the past because certain people on the list habitually give us expensive gifts. Regardless of another's budget, we now stick to what we know we can manage.

Don't shop for half the planet. I have a big family that keeps adding new members. It's almost impossible to keep up with shopping for the next generations, so now we keep it to the immediate family members. The rest of them get home made goodies from our holiday kitchen along with a personal message of cheer and goodwill.

Time and experience. Some of the people in our family have so much "stuff" already; it's hard to shop for them. For those people we make colorful handmade gift cards promising things like a walk in the park followed by lunch at their favorite restaurant, or a family tour of the local art museum. Time spent with loved ones can be more valuable to them than another material possession.

Personalized giving. When my sister and I were young we always gave handmade gifts to our family members. Now we have taken this to a whole new level. We join forces and sew or craft unique items that people in our family can use around home. What's fun is that we make each item with a particular person in mind, and they love the thought we put into the gift.

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