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Mom's money guide: Avoiding holiday credit card debt

Kim Grundy is a mom, writer, expert laundry folder and sandwich maker, not necessarily in that order. Raised in Oklahoma, she is now a West Coast gal and lives in California with her husband and two sons, along with one dog, two fish (oo...

Christmas fun on a budget

'Tis the season to overspend and get further into credit card debt? Not this year! Find out how to have a wonderful holiday season without overspending on Christmas gifts or holiday decorating.

Woman with credit card shopping online

Enjoy the holidays this year knowing you didn't blow your family budget on Christmas gifts and holiday decorating by following these expert and mom-approved tips. You can still have a festive holiday season by planning ahead and being smart about your money. Here's how:

Set a budget

"Without a budget the family is often rudderless when it comes to money issues, and therefore more open to spend on whim and happenstance," says Jo Bittof, co-Founder of ActFinancially.com. "Having a household budget serves as a tool to assist in financial planning and also can be used as a tool to teach children about financial responsibility."

Before you step one foot into a store, set a Christmas shopping budget, write it down and (this is the hard part!) stick to it. Instead of shopping without abandon, having a pre-planned dollar amount in mind will prevent you from overspending.

Shop with cash

Shopping with cash, versus using a credit or debit card, is a great trick to avoid holiday overspending. Once your cash runs out – it is time to go home. For many people, physically seeing how much money you have makes it more concrete and helps you stay on budget. Plan ahead by pulling cash out each month to put in a Christmas fund so you have your Christmas shopping money ready.

Pad your Christmas budget

Now is the perfect time to go through your child's gently used toys and clothes and earn some extra Christmas money by taking them to a consignment shop. "Not taking advantage of reselling your child's clothes and equipment is a money mistake," says Lea Schneider of Organize Right Now LLC.

"Use consignment shops as your young children outgrow their clothing. Whatever doesn't sell at a consignment shop can go into a garage sale. Find a few other parents and host a sale together. You're sure to get a crowd when you advertise children's things at a multi-family sale."

Shop around

Is Stinky the Garbage Truck at the top of your child's Christmas list? Check online and call around before you spend. "One of the biggest money mistakes moms can make is simply not shopping around. With everyone turning to the Internet for everything from new cars to toilet paper, deals can be found in every corner. But many moms don't shop around and ultimately waste thousands of dollars a year," says Houston based WhiteFence CEO, Bob Harris.

Keep all receipts

Make sure you keep all receipts for toys and clothes in case you need to make an exchange or return. You never know if grandma bought the same toy did or if your child ends up not playing with a toy you thought he would love.

Shop dollar stores

Are you looking for stocking stuffers to home decorating items? You can find great deals on everything from toys to holiday napkins and more at dollar stores.

Resist the temptation to overspend on home decorating

We know the expensive holiday displays would look great in your home, but do you really need them? A clear vase filled with pinecones or holiday lights on the indoor palm look just as festive without breaking the bank. Placing tea lights around your house provides instant holiday cheer and atmosphere -- without holiday debt.

Don't forget that your food can double as holiday décor! Arrange those Christmas cookies on a tiered plate for a festive look. Do you not have a tiered plate or Christmas platter? Before you run out and buy one, check with friends and neighbors to see if they have one you can borrow. Seasonal items you only use once a year can be a big waste of money.

Plan a gift exchange

Are you hosting the entire family for Christmas? Resist the urge to buy a gift for everyone and plan a gift exchange. Tell everyone to bring one gift and set a money limit and have a gift exchange! This is a fun holiday event that is sure to turn into a tradition that will save everyone money in the long run.

Tell us: What is your best money saving holiday tip? Share below!

Read more about budgeting

6 Ways to survive the holidays on a budget
Christmas decorations...on a budget
How to celebrate Christmas on a budget

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