Avoiding the "red" this holiday season

By Mark Bullion

November 27, 2012 Updated Nov 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- This holiday season, getting the best deals on various products is on just about everyone's mind. But it's what's going on in the mind that leads to the sometimes common mistake of impulse buying, ultimately digging deeper into debt.

"It's this desirable something, a new TV, a new phone, something, it's that impulse that 'yes, I want this or somebody I know wants this,'" said Psychotherapist Dr. Joy Miller. "If I have $100 to spend, and I need to get a present that cost 50 dollars, then I have $50 left for a want. People many times are only looking at only what they want, not what's in the need column."

And it's what people want that keeps the credit cards swiping mounting to large amounts of debt. But if you have a plan and stick with it, you can avoid the red.

"One of the most important things to do is stick with a budget, one of the very first few things a person needs to figure out is how much they want to spend on Christmas," said CEFCU Credit Manager Mark Priess.

But if you don't and swipe that credit card carelessly, there's a big wake up call coming.

"January and February what a lot of times people want to do is add in any of their Christmas spending to their budget and try to pay those bills down as quickly as possible," said Priess.

Which experts say is crucial to maintaining good credit. So address your wants versus needs, establish a budget, and remember, the holidays aren't just about material items.

"If you only have $100, maybe you have to spend $20 here and there, but can you give someone else babysitting, or shoveling their drive, or baking cookies, something that still works out in your budget, and you can meet your needs," said Dr. Joy.

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