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Holiday shopping tips that may keep you from getting in over your head

Make a plans now so you don't get

Make a plans now so you don't get sucked into impulse purchases.  Credit: Daniel Brennan

A new survey from Credit Card Insider found that almost one in five people they polled had debt from last year’s holiday season.  If you can relate and don’t want to hit the repeat button, there’s still time to have a merry holiday minus the money madness. Here are some steps you can take.

Set up a savings account for the holidays

Between family celebrations, the gifts and Black Friday sales, it can be difficult to stick to a budget.  “One benefit of setting up a separate savings account, either through your existing bank or online, is that you can easily keep track of spending as you go. More importantly, it will force you to think twice before dipping into other funds you may have set aside for a larger spending goal or your emergency savings,” says Kimberly Hamilton, founder of Beworth Finance, a personal finance education company.

Gift an experience

Offer to pay for an experience later in the year. You’ll give yourself more time to save to pay for that expense. “This can be anything from a nice Christmas-in-July dinner, to a weekend getaway that your whole family can enjoy,” says Hamilton.

Use cash

“Carry a set amount of cash you’re comfortable spending. Then, each time you go to pay for something, you’ll have to physically pull out the exact amount, which may make you think twice,” says Dana Marineau, vice president and financial advocate with CreditKarma.com.

If you have a budget and a shopping list, sticking to cash may be easier.

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