6 Tips for Keeping Budgets on Track

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6 Tips for Keeping Budgets on Track

As holiday season kicks into high gear, it's easy to get swept up in the holiday-shopping hysteria. But if you plan ahead, you can keep spending under control and go into the new year without unnecessary debt. Here's how.

Start saving early: Prepare for the holidays year-round with an account that sets money aside for holiday shopping. (You can always start in January if you didn't do this in 2014!)

Cut back: Little changes can add up to big savings over time. Bring your lunch to work one more day each week or make your own coffee instead of shelling out for the coffee-shop brew. Put those savings away each week for holiday purchases.

Stay on target: Make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for before you start shopping and come up with a budget that covers everyone accordingly. And – most importantly – stick to it!

Leave your credit cards at home: One way to not get in over your head during the holidays is to spend only what you have. Use cash, checks and debit cards to pay for your purchases.

Credit-card discounts: If you do opt to use credit cards for holiday purchases, do your research. Many companies have deals with retailers – especially online – that will earn you savings if you use the right card.

Installments: The layaway payment plan has recently experienced a resurgence. Several major retailers offer the option in store and online, and it can be a great alternative to credit cards and their interest.

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