Consumer Watch: How to avoid holiday debt

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on November 7, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 7 at 6:01 PM

(WHAS11) -- It's as much of an American tradition as holiday shopping, post-holiday debt. Trimming some costs right now can help consumers stash some cash before Black Friday.

To find extra cash in your budget between now and Black Friday Kiplinger's personal finance offers these simple, painless tips:
 
1. Stop paying for text messages and potentially overage fees. There are now a variety of free texting apps. “You'll tap into all of that through an app on your phone as opposed to using standard messaging on your phone, free of charge. The only thing you'll have to put up with are some ads here and there, of course, “ said Robert Long who is a finance expert at Kiplinger's personal finance.
 
2. Dig in your wallet to find and sell unwanted gift cards. Kiplinger says the average household has about $300 worth of gift cards lying around. An online gift card exchange won't give the full value of the card, but it's better than nothing.
 
3. Adjust your tax withholding instead of waiting for the usual fat refund in the spring. “That's money that government, of course, is giving back to you in the spring. But why let the IRS hold on to it all year long? You could be saving or investing that money or earning some interest along the way or spending it on worthwhile adventures, such as holiday gifts,” said Long.
 
It's as simple as filing a new W-4 form with your employer. The changes can take effect with your next paycheck, and could put almost $500 in your bank account over the next two months.
 

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