Shop Smart: Avoid the weight of holiday debt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Post holiday debt can pack on like pounds after the holiday season. Many people find themselves strapped for cash.

Financial expert Chris Keuhl says there are ways you can avoid going into debt this holiday season.

Keuhl suggests using cash when you shop for gifts. Using credit cards end up costing more when you add in months of finance charges. Keuhl suggests people put aside some cash from each paycheck and try to save up for holiday gifts. He also said being selective is important.

"Part of what's happening now is that people are having conversations with their distant relatives saying,' I know we've exchanged gifts in the past but you are after all my sixth cousin twice removed. Can we not do that this year, can we stick to immediate family'."

You should also set a spending limit before you shop so that you do not overspend and go over budget.

Keuhl says consumers should pay attention to possible discounts through credit cards or organizations.

"We don't often pay attention to where we get discounts. We have all kinds of perks for being involved with organizations. AARP, AAA, all of these sorts of things.

Southwest Airlines has an entire shopping section that's connected to the airlines. You can buy a car if you want to."

Consumer Reports advises people opt out of purchasing a warranty especially for electronics or household appliances. Extended warranties are often not worth the money considering the items don't usually break during their warranty period.

Some credits cards, such as American Express, offer extended warranty protection on products purchased with that card.

Also, many retailers are bringing back layaway for the holiday season. If you start early and put clothes on layaway and pay a small amount over time, you can avoid going into debt.

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