Avoiding a holiday debt hangover

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PHOENIX - 'Tis the season for shopping, so check your budget and check it twice.

But if setting a spending limit isn't enough, financial planner Michelle Evard suggests scoring some extra cash by selling stuff you already own.

“There's ways to sell your electronics online, you can sell on Ebay, books on Ebay or Amazon, you can sell your clothing at a lot of the consignment stores,” Evard said.

If you're looking for a simpler way to save, join the millions of online shoppers turning to coupons.

Leading coupon websites retailmenot.com and couponcabin.com reportedly saw record traffic on Cyber Monday.

Bradsdeals.com said web traffic increased 174% to 16,000 visitors per hour on Monday.

But if shopping at a store is more your speed, Evard says putting gifts on layaway may help.

“I've seen a lot of advertisements for layaway programs on TV more than I’ve seen in years," she said.

Once the buying begins, using your credit card with caution will be key to keeping debt in check.

Evard advises you to write out exactly how much you want to spend for the holidays, and divide that by how many people you have to buy for.

“So you've really need to go through your checking account and subtract what your expenses are going to be so that you don't have overdraft fees and really stick to whatever that is,” Evard explained.

Avoid overages by setting a certain dollar amount for gifts and don't spend a dime more.

But when that credit card bill does arrive in the mail next month, don't ignore it! Failure to repay debt responsibly will result in a lower credit score.

While it may be easy to get caught up in the shopping spirit, remember: too much bargain hunting adds up.

Getting a good deal is great, but getting thirty good deals can be expensive.

“Focus on how it’s going to feel the next day, when you're looking at all the purchases, are you going to feel guilty that you purchased that extra item, because if you're going to feel guilty about it don't do it,” Evard said.

Holiday budget worksheet:
http://www.betterbudgeting.com/freeworksheets/holidayexpenses.htm

Coupon websites:
http://www.bradsdeals.com/
http://www.couponcabin.com/
http://www.retailmenot.com/