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Smarter holiday spending

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Many Americans won’t start the holiday season with a clean financial slate.

If credit card debt is already mounting, leave the plastic alone.

“maybe you can’t do what you really want to do during the holidays in terms of everything you want to give your children or your friends, but if you stick with cash your situation at least won’t get any worse. ”

Sticking with cash on hand requires a more disciplined approach.

In addition to gifting family and friends, factor in others that are often overlooked, like tips for baby sitters and hairdressers.

Credit card expert Beverly Harzog urges shoppers to be honest about that budget and don’t rely on potential money like holiday bonus that may not materialize.

“Stick with what you have in your accounts at the moment.”

If a large purchase is going on a credit card, make a smart choice.

Use a rewards card that will earn points, miles or cash back. And resist being tempted by those deals that promise instant savings by opening a store credit card. They tend to have higher interest rates, meaning you may still be paying for this year’s gifts next year.