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During the Christmas season, retailers pull out all the stops to separate us from our money.
We’ve all experienced it. And sometimes, we’ve even cracked under the pressure. We know putting Christmas on a credit card is not a smart money decision, but we do it anyway. And when January rolls around, we have a financial hangover a couple of aspirin can’t fix.
In an effort to help us all make smarter money decisions this year, we’ve asked Dave’s Facebook fans to share their biggest holiday shopping fails. Here are four good reasons to budget before you buy:
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The Gift Return of Shame
“One sad December, I did not plan or budget—just splurged. I ended up with more presents than money, and when it came time to pay my credit card balance, I was shocked. I sucked it up and took my already wrapped gifts (with the return receipts tucked inside the packages) back to the store. At first, the employee looked at me with confusion. Then she nodded her head knowingly and began to unwrap the gifts. I saved myself from credit card debt. And even though there were only a few gifts under the tree, we still had a merry and debt-free Christmas. Lesson learned!” —Megan
Beans and Rice in January
“Two years ago, my husband and I did not really budget for Christmas. We set an amount for everyone we bought for but never cash flowed it. We also spent several hundred dollars on each other—again without cash flowing it. We were broke by January. We lived on beans and rice for the next several months to recover.” —Emily
The High Cost of Unused Toys
“A couple of years ago, I spent a lot more on Christmas than I should have. It was a hard wakeup call. For a few months after the holidays, we were playing catch up because I had "robbed Peter to pay Paul." Not smart. To make things worse, once Christmas was over and the glow of new things had worn off, most of the gifts were rarely used, like the Xbox I bought for my husband and toys I had purchased for my kids. I now realize that Christmas is not all about gifts; it is about the memories created. I am much happier buying small things for my family that they will enjoy for a while.” —Rachel
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A Nearly Evicted Christmas
“We had more than a fail. It was an avalanche! One year my husband and I used our rent for Christmas, thinking we could make it up. Big mistake. It almost got us evicted.” —Desiree
This Christmas, avoid your own holiday shopping fails by making a budget, avoiding credit, and sticking to your plan! You’ll have a much happier New Year without the old year haunting you for months to come.