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How to avoid credit card mishaps this holiday season

At this very moment, stores throughout Miami, across Florida and around the U.S. are filled to the brim with customers looking to take advantage of Black Friday deals. They aren't the only ones looking to take advantage of the savings, however, as many shoppers are busy looking online for holiday sales, opting for the touchpad and keyboard in their homes over the brick and mortar of the stores.

Regardless of how you are planning to make your holiday purchases this year, experts are already warning people to be mindful of their spending habits, particularly as they relate to credit cards.    

To that end, today's post, the first in a series, will examine some credit card mistakes that people routinely make during the holidays and, more importantly, steps that can be taken to avoid them altogether.

Neglecting to track spending

When holiday deals seem too good to be true or a person is simply filled with the holiday giving spirit much more than they anticipated, it can be very easy to lose track of how much is being spent. This is especially true as far as credit cards are concerned and a person might not be fully aware of the damage until they receive their January statement.

In order to help avoid this unpleasant surprise, experts advise people to set a firm budget -- whether its $100 or $1,000 -- and keep a running tally of holiday expenses in a prominent place (i.e., the refrigerator door). Once the budget is gone, spending should then stop unless all parties agree that it will be funded by some other non-holiday aspect of the monthly budget.

Declining deferred interest  

For those unfamiliar with deferred interest deals, they essentially involve stores offering consumers the chance to purchase big-ticket items like appliances or furniture on their store-branded credit cards and pay no interest provided they pay off the entire balance prior to the expiration of the advertised period.

While this can prove to be a good deal, experts urge those lacking the necessary financial discipline to proceed with caution, as any failure to pay off the entire amount within the specified timeframe -- even one cent -- will mean that interest will be charged for the entire introductory period.

We'll continue this discussion over the holiday season …

If credit card debt has become unmanageable despite your best efforts and the calls from creditors won't stop, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options as they relate to personal bankruptcy.   

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