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Shun holiday credit card binge

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

While a Turkey Day bender may stretch your waistline, be careful to not stretch your credit cards to the limit the day after.

On average, Americans will spend $704.18 this holiday season, according to estimates by the National Retail Federation. That's $465.6 billion in total, up 2.8 percent from last year.

Much of that spending will take place the day after Thanksgiving, dubbed Black Friday, which in recent years has reclaimed its title of the busiest shopping day of the year.

But while it may be fun to indulge in the festive spirit, the credit card bill may be your worst holiday hangover ever if you don't practice discipline.

Here are few helpful tips to keep spending appropriately sized this holiday season:

  1. Set a budget, determining how much in total you want to spend and how much you want to spend on each person. Figure out how much of that will go on credit with the goal of paying off the balance each month. Check out spending management features from your issuer, like Chase's Blueprint program.
  2. Don't buy just because it's on sale. Sometimes a good deal is hard to resist, but it's only wasted money if you didn't plan to buy it in the first place. If it's not on your list, it shouldn't be in your shopping cart.
  3. Resist credit card rewards deals. Issuers are pulling out the stops for their cardholders this year, offering new ways to earn major rewards by spending more.  Remember: There's no reward in going into debt for rewards points.
  4. If someone who isn't on your list gives you a gift, don't just run out to the store to return the favor. Consider other thoughtful, but budget-friendly gifts like homemade cookies or helping with an annoying chore.

Do you have any advice to add? I'd love to hear it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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