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5 Tips to Avoid Credit Card Debt During the Holidays

Sometimes it seems like the holiday season is synonymous with credit card debt. The most wonderful time of the year is also the most expensive. How can you avoid credit card debt when  shopping for gifts for your friends and family? ACCC has a few tips!

Avoid credit card debt during the holidays for a smoother new year.

Avoid credit card debt during the holidays for a smoother new year.

Make a List

You don’t have to make a naughty or nice list, but you should make a list of which family members and friends you’re getting gifts for and how much you plan to spend on each. It’s important that you have a realistic budget when you create this list so you don’t overspend. Sticking to a list and a budget is the best path to avoiding credit card debt.

Start Saving Before the Holidays

Ideally, you should start saving for the holiday season in January if possible. That gives you almost an entire year to save up. If you save $50 a year from January to December, you’ll have $600 saved for holiday expenses! Even if you haven’t been saving over the course of the last year, it’s not too late. Cut back on expenses like takeout, entertainment, or shopping for yourself. Use more coupons when you go grocery shopping. Every little bit adds up!

Start a Side Hustle

Starting a side hustle is a great way to avoid credit card debt during the holidays. The extra cash from your side hustle means you won’t have to resort to using credit cards if you didn’t start saving early enough this year. We have a list of side hustle ideas that are safe and profitable during COVID-19!

Pay Your Credit Card Bill in Full

Normally, we advise consumers to avoid using credit cards during the holiday season and use cash only. This works great if you can shop in person at a brick-and-mortar store. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, it is not safe to be at a crowded shopping mall or department store. That means most of us will probably be doing our holiday shopping online this year using credit cards. However, treat your credit card like cash. Give yourself a set amount that you can spend, and when you’ve spent that amount, you’re done shopping. When you get your credit card bill, pay it in full so you can avoid accumulating credit card debt.

Skip Traveling This Year

Traveling is expensive, and this year, it’s not advisable anyway. Rather than spend money on plane tickets or gas for a road trip to see family, save that money for later. Put the money you would have spent on holiday travel into your emergency fund instead. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that having an emergency fund is the best way to avoid credit card debt in times of crisis!

If you struggle with credit card debt, ACCC can help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session today.  


Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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