11.13 How to stay out of holiday debt

Savings expert and New York Times bestselling author Pamela Yellen has shared her tips on how to beat binge spending and the credit card stress that follows.

  1. Pay for gifts with cash. People paying with cash spend 20 percent less without feeling deprived, according to research by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
  2. Ask yourself why. Ask yourself why you want to buy something ~ whether it’s for yourself or as a gift. You may realize that you’re being manipulated into it by advertisements.
  3. The gifts people remember the longest are often free. Think about what you might give that is free or low cost that would bring as much, or more, long-term pleasure.
  4. Remind yourself of your goals. This helps you realize that every time you don’t spend money, you’re closer to reaching your goals.
  5. Use the 10/10/10 Savings Formula: Using the time-tested 10/10/10 Savings Formula year round puts you in control of your money and finances. Save 10 percent of your income for short-term goals (vacation), 10 percent for medium-length goals or emergencies (a new car) and save 10 percent for retirement.

The average holiday shopper spent $423 the weekend after Thanksgiving last year, with total holiday spending topping $59.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

“Find it difficult to stick to a budget? Give gift cards and make something personal to go with them. Or give experiences instead of ‘stuff’ ~ a shared hike or a special home-cooked meal. Or volunteer together at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter or nursing home if your gift recipient doesn’t want more material items,” Yellen said.

As a consultant to financial advisors, Pamela Yellen investigated more than 450 savings and retirement planning strategies, seeking an alternative to the risk and volatility of stocks and other investments. Yellen’s book, Bank On Yourself: The Life-Changing Secret To Growing And Protecting Your Financial Future, is a New York Times bestseller. Learn more at BankOnYourself.com.