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Memphis consumers can reduce holiday credit card debt

As the holidays approach, consumers in Memphis may welcome some tips about managing their holiday spending -- and avoiding excessive credit card debt.

True, the temptations abound. For those able to forego the in-store deals offered by Black Friday, the lure of online shopping during Cyber Monday may have deals to good to pass up. Many retailers deluge consumers with catalogs and holiday coupons, offering free shipping or in-store discounts.

Credit card companies are no exception to the retailer frenzy. Many are offering special deals for opening up a new card, such as consolidation offers or several months of interest-free debt.

First and foremost, a fiscally responsible shopper should draw up a spending plan for the holidays. Such a list may include the names of all gift recipients and the budge allowed to each. Keeping that list handy when shopping online or at the store will serve as a reminder, and potentially help shoppers stay under budget.

Second, consumers are advised against opening up a new credit card. Doing so may create a false sense of security, and the potential savings of a few months of interest free may make little impact in the long-term, while creating a short-term incentive for increased holiday spending.

Third, consumers who don't want to pay an extra fee for using their credit card might benefit from holiday layaway programs. Several national retailers have lowered or waived fees this year, hoping to entice shoppers to participate in such their interest-free, pay-over-time layaway programs.

Finally, remembering that the personal touch can often make the greatest impact, holiday consumers might consider making a personal gift out of photographs or other personal items. Such gifts can be viewed as priceless because they can't be purchased in stores. At the same time, they can reflect the unique insight a close friend or loved one may have about the gift recipient.

Source: Associated Press, "5 tips to steer clear of debt in holiday spending," Dave Carpenter, Nov. 14

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