Money Fix: Avoiding debt, the holiday hangover
Ideally, you've saved all year for holiday festivities. If not, you can still make moves that leave your bank account more merry than miserable.
Get buy-in on a "buy-out." If your family and friends agree to downsize to something less commercial, with fewer purchased gifts, you're on your way to a meaningful holiday season that doesn't evolve into financial stress in the New Year, says David Flores, New York region manager and counselor with GreenPath Debt Solutions in Jericho.
Budget. Set a specific amount for each person you "must buy for." Your budget should include all costs, including cards and decorations. Review last year's budget. If you spent a lot on entertaining, go potluck, says Billy Robins, vice president, product management online banking, at Wells Fargo Digital Channels Group.
Find money. Each night empty your pocket change into a jar. Cut $5 to $10 per day out of your miscellaneous spending and put it there, too. Avoid impulse purchases, but pretend you spent it anyway and add it to the jar, along with the bank fees you're not paying by sticking to in-network ATMs.
Avoid new store credit cards. The additional 10 percent to 15 percent off is tempting, but opening retailer credit cards can have a negative impact on your credit score, and they have much higher annual percentage rates. Says Katie Coleman, financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial in Melville, "Pay cash and avoid a pile of debt."