Protect Your Family from Holiday Debt

Plenty of people overspend during the holidays, and credit card debt can linger for years if you don't clean it up quickly. Take control of your finances and avoid the post-Christmas credit crunch by planning ahead.

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A little planning can help you avoid the temptation to overspend during the holiday season.

Open a holiday savings account and plan gift-buying throughout the year to avoid holiday-induced debt. Then, assess everything you owe and what the interest rates are so you can pay off the most expensive debt first. (You might be able to get rates down by asking the credit card companies or by consolidating balances.)

Declare January the Month of Nothing, and don't spend on anything but necessities. That doesn't mean not having fun--gather for a potluck instead of dinner out or rent a DVD rather than hitting the multiplex.

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