Avoid a jarring January filled with holiday debt

While the holiday season is a joyous time to spend with family and friends, it’s also a time to spend money. For those with credit cards, it can prove difficult to avoid debt. A trip to the mall with a specific gift in mind can quickly turn into a shopping spree where gift after gift ends up on the plastic.

While it can be tough to avoid letting plastic pay for the perfect gift, there are ways to ensure this holiday season won’t find you climbing a mountain of debt by the time it’s over.

• Purchase gifts with cash rather than on credit. This is easier than it may sound, as shoppers heading to the nearby mall should simply leave the credit card at home when they go out to shop.

• Give the gift of your time and talents. Who hasn’t received a gift they didn’t want at least once dur ing their lifetime? Avoid overspending by offering to perform a service for a friend or family member, such as babysitting so Mom and Dad can enjoy a night out together, or if you’re a skilled craftsman put your talent to use and create a gift for a loved one.

• Decide in advance how much you can spend and stick to it. Budgets are a shopper’s best friend when it comes to holiday shopping. Know what you can spend before you start your holiday shopping and be sure to stay at (or under) budget.

• Remember January. Just like everyone has received a gift they didn’t want or need in the past, nearly every adult has made it to January after another long holiday season and found themselves w ith an array of bills they cannot afford. Remember this feeling whenever shopping and it might just help you avoid another jarring January.

• Explain the current economy to kids. Kids often shoot for the moon with their holiday gift requests, and why shouldn’t they? But thanks to the dismal economy of the last year, it’s wise for parents to explain to kids that this Christmas might be a little different.

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2009-12-17 digital edition

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The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.

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