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Holiday Debt Dangers

6:18 PM, Nov 21, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- It's the season for spending.   And year after year, consumers are reminded of the dangers of holiday debt.

But responsible spending doesn't have to mean putting your credit card on ice. 

If you have a credit card with rewards or points attached, between travel and buying gifts, experts say this is the time of year to make it work for you.

"You can even start using those rewards points to buy gifts so it really is a good idea to use your cards, as long as you don't overspend, and as long as you keep track of what you're spending," says credit card expert Barbara Herzog.

That's the key.  Whether you're using credit or cash make a budge, review it often, then reevaluate your spending.  And, while you're shopping in the store, beware of credit card offers from retailers.

Herzog says, "The positive that they try to sell you on at the register is that you can get 10 or 15 percent off right away.  And, you know, that is very enticing.  But, it's still a good idea to read that credit card agreement first."

The agreement will clue you in on the card's interest rate.  And, that little holiday debt can balloon even bigger if you don't pay it off right away.

It's something to keep in mind for any holiday purchase on credit.

And, here are some other steps to help you avoid holiday debt dangers.

Make a list.  It will temper the urge to splurge.

Use layaway.  That way you'll limit your credit card use.

And, if you must charge your purchases, pick one credit card to do it.

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