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Money Fix: Prudent holiday spending

Shop smart for the holidays to avoid a

Shop smart for the holidays to avoid a financial hangover in the new year, experts advise. Credit: iStock

The holidays are just around the corner. If you haven't saved all year, don't panic. There's time to strategize.

Here's how to avoid a financial holiday hangover.

Do what you can do: According to Discover, Americans plan to spend, on average, just over $1,000 this season, 20 percent more than 2012. Why try to keep up with the Joneses who will still be paying holiday bills in July?

Set a budget: Tune out anybody who wants to send you on a guilt trip. Allocate an amount for each person and don't overspend by even a dollar, says Steve Siebold, author of "How Rich People Think."

Redeem rewards: Use rewards from loyalty programs to purchase gifts or gift cards. Issuers such as Capital One offer holiday promotions that let you use rewards to buy gift cards at below face value.

Shop with cash: It helps control spending. If you charge, pay in full at month-end.

Pool resources: Organize a gift swap with friends. Clothes and toys belonging to older children can be re-gifted to younger children who don't realize or care that their gifts are not brand new, says Leslie Tayne, an attorney specializing in debt issues with the Tayne Law Group in Melville.

Speak up: Use the Internet and apps to price shop. Many stores, especially in electronics, will match prices you find online if you ask, says Al Osbourne, an Ameriprise financial adviser in East Meadow.

And don't wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday; the best deals may be right now.

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