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Overspending before the holidays can lead to debt, bankruptcy

Overspending during the holidays is tempting. Many people are in the spirit of giving and want to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. While there is nothing wrong with generosity, it is important to find gifts that fit within your budget. A recent article discussed what can go wrong when consumers -- bombarded by exclusive or limited-time online deals -- spend more than they have.

Many people jokingly call themselves shopaholics. These people love to shop and get excited about the idea of purchasing something new. However, over shopping is a real problem for some people, and in the most extreme cases, can lead to bankruptcy or foreclosure.

The Internet has changed the face of shopping. You don't even have to get out of your pajamas to make a purchase, and all it takes is a click of the mouse. Not only is it accessible and convenient, consumers are hit in the face by thousands of ads promoting special holiday sales or deals that only last a day, making some people feel like they have to buy now. However, even those who only buy so-called bargains can wind up having money problems.

Like any other addiction, shopping can become dysfunctional for those people who become preoccupied by the impulse to make purchases. Despite the pleasure some get from shopping, it can be the portal to a road to debt -- especially during the holidays. According to the American Psychological Association, 15 million Americans have problems controlling their spending.

Of course, shopping is not a serious problem for everyone, but New Jersey residents who are wrapping up holiday shopping should make a budget and stick to it. This is a good way to keep finances in check and stay out of debt.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "When shopping is a problem," Bonnie Miller Rubin, Dec. 23, 2011

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