Provides Tips for Staying Money-Wise As the Holiday Season Rolls In

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With Christmas just a few more weeks away, consumers are preparing to scour the shops and kick into full gift-hunting mode—a yearly event that drives people to go overboard on their spending. offers helpful advice for staying on top of one's finances and avoiding debts during the holiday season.

Leading Information and Referral Resource for Debt Management and Credit Counseling

Americans tend to make some of the most common credit card mistakes during the Christmas season. A study by the American Research Group, Inc. reveals that Americans spent an average of $646 on Christmas gifts in 2011.

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Deciding on a gift to buy for a friend or relative, snapping it up from the store shelves before somebody else does, wrapping it up with fancy paper and ribbon—American consumers are sure to get caught up in these activities as the Christmas holidays close in once again., a leading information and referral source for debt management and credit counseling, compiles a list of tips to help consumers indulge in the festive season without maxing out their credit cards and waking up to thinner bank accounts.

A study by the American Research Group, Inc. reveals that Americans spent an average of $646 on Christmas gifts in 2011. Some of these presents may have been purchased with cash, but data from the Federal Reserve Board points to more purchases made using plastic; more than $851 billion in credit card debt was racked up by American shoppers in December last year (more than in any other month).

With parties being thrown left and right and the number of relatives, close friends, and acquaintances to shop for increasing every year, Americans tend to make some of the most common credit card mistakes during the Christmas season. "Available balance is part of the mathematical equation that makes up a person’s credit score," explains a representative. "Spending the entire balance every month can actually hurt a person’s credit rating... When lenders see that a person has nearly no available credit, it sets off a red flag."

"Going over one’s credit limit shows a lack of responsibility," the representative adds. "When lenders see that a person constantly goes over the limit, they assume that debtor is careless. It will be extremely hard for a person like that to receive a credit line increase and products from other lenders.

Making late payments also creates bigger problems for the cardholder. "It gives the lender the opportunity to attach more fees. Late fees and interest charges can send a debtor into a fast downward spiral." When these mistakes have been committed, a consumer can be faced with a personal financial situation that has gone out of control, affecting other aspects of his life as well. can help a borrower consider credit card relief options such as debt consolidation or settlement to reduce his debts and regain control of his finances once more.

To help keep credit card holders from digging themselves deeper into a hole of unsecured debt this Christmas season, offers tips for preparing for the holiday rush without breaking the bank:

1. Stick to a reasonable budget for presents. Instead of giving each person on one's Christmas list an individual present and ringing up purchases nonstop, a person can give one meaningful gift per family or group of friends. Get creative with materials and make presents out of scratch; instead of expensive designer clothes, gadgets, or accessories, make homemade baked goods, self-designed ornaments, and lovely crafts for a more precious touch.

2. Perform charitable work in lieu of exchanging gifts. Invite co-workers or childhood friends to organize donation drives or volunteer at shelters and other institutions instead of throwing a party or exchanging gifts with each other.

3. Figure out ways to cut corners elsewhere and save more cash for Christmas. Cancelling gym memberships and premium cable channels, selling used possessions, going the do-it-yourself route for household projects, and cutting back on little luxuries like a daily fancy coffee fix or spa treatments can all contribute to big savings when the gift-buying craze sets in.

4. Be aware of possible sources of bargains. Target recently announced that it will allow customers to match prices from online retailers such as,,, and; this presents consumers with an opportunity to find gift ideas at much lower prices.

5. Use credit cards only for particular instances wherein savings are guaranteed. According to an article published on, many credit cards are ideal for purchasing electronics because they double the standard one-year manufacturer's warranty on purchases. As a price-protection feature, some higher-end credit card companies also give users a refund if they find a lower price for an item they have already bought using the card.

Getting into the holiday spirit need not involve dipping excessively into one's financial store to the point of exhausting savings accounts meant for other, more significant expenses. Consumers can discover sound debt solutions during the holidays and anytime throughout the year with the help of

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Adam Tijerina
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