How to avoid running up large shopping bills when making online purchases

Following Black Friday, Americans continued shopping online on Cyber Monday.
December 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Following Black Friday, Americans continued shopping online on Cyber Monday. The average person is expected to spend $738 during the Christmas holiday season, but all those holiday expenses can quickly add up.

Deep discounts, bargains and deals are attracting shoppers online and to stores this holiday season.

"The easiest way is to go online, go to Amazon, eBay, different things like that way you'll find the best prices and it ends up being under a couple hundred," James Vaipan from Fresno said.

Vaipan said he has been buying gifts in store and mostly online on Cyber Monday for friends and family. Action News asked Valley residents how much they plan to spend on holiday gifts and according to a Survey USA news poll 12 percent say less than one $100. A majority 38 percent will spend $100-$300. Twenty-four percent will spend $300-$500 and 13 percent will spend $500 or more.

"I would say one, stay within your budget. Don't try to give more than what you can afford," Clearpoint Credit Counselor Maria Rodriguez said.

Financial experts say setting a budget and making a list is the best way to avoid debt.

Staying within your holiday budget just got a little easier if you have a smart phone. You can actually download an app that tracks each of your purchases from store to store, so you know how much you've spent on Christmas gifts.

The Survey USA poll revealed nearly 70 percent of residents will pay cash or use their debit card for the gifts, while 20 percent will pay by credit card. Financial experts do warn against using credit cards, saying paying them off might be a lot harder than you think.

"It's an important time to really think about your family's budget and to not run up your credit card bills. Because after the first of the year after the holiday spirit is gone, you'll just be stuck with a lot of bills," Clearpoint Credit Counselor Martha Lucey said.

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