With only six days to go before Christmas, some South Floridians may panic and end up spending more than they can afford on gifts, warns a founder of a counseling agency.
"Procrastinating shoppers risk not finding the gifts they were looking for and are in danger of overspending and incurring credit card debt," said Howard Dvorkin, founder of Fort Lauderdale-based Consolidated Credit Counseling Services. "These consumers may end up paying for gifts six months or more after the holidays are over."Indeed, a survey released on Monday by Visa showed almost three fourths of Americans still hadn't finished their holiday shopping. Those last-minute shoppers will spend an average of $304, Visa reported.
"When shoppers panic, they throw money at the problem and often overspend to get a gift – any gift – in time for Christmas," said Jason Alderman, Visa's senior director of global financial education.
He and Dvorkin give four tips to help South Floridians have a memorable holiday -- without overspending:
Spend no more than 1.5 percent of annual income on holiday expenses. For a family earning $50,000 a year, that means $750 -- or less.
Stick to a plan to buy a gift for each person on your list. Are stores out of the item? Buy a gift card -- within your budget -- instead. You can go online to giftcards.com or giftcertificates.com.
Give the gift of your time by baking goodies or even offering to clean or do laundry.
If you hate to shop, get help from a friend who will come with you and can help you find the gifts you need. Keep in mind that most stores will close earlier than usual on Christmas Eve.
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