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'Tis the season for Texas shoppers to rack up credit card debt

December means holiday time and the time for giving. However, for many in Texas, a little generosity could have a negative, long-term impact. Americans take on more credit card debt during the month of December than at any other time of the year -- 16.4 percent more, in fact. In terms of dollars, that equals $131 billion. For those who charge their gifts, holiday sales may prove to be no bargain at all.

According to Gallup, the average middle class family will spend $1,035 during the holidays this year. The standard balance transfer card has an average interest rate of 15.8 percent. If the consumer uses this card for all holiday purchases and only pays the minimum each month, that $1,035 will take nine years to pay off and accumulate $773 in interest. If the purchases are charged on a department store credit card, which generally has above average interest rates, the consequences may be even worse.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this scenario. Paying more than the minimum each month is one way, but avoiding impulse purchases can help control spending and result in less credit card debt. One way to do this is to make a shopping list and only buy the items on the list. Some consumers may find that online shopping can cut down on spending, too, since the merchandise is not available to handle.

After the gifts have been opened and long after the decorations have been packed away, some Texas consumers may find themselves overwhelmed with credit card debt. They may find it beneficial to examine various options for debt relief. In some cases, filing for bankruptcy may offer the best opportunity to get a handle on debt by either discharging it or setting up a repayment plan. For some, bankruptcy is one way to start over and begin working on better financial habits.

Source: myfoxphoenix.com, Willis Report: Avoiding the credit card holiday hangover, Gerri Willis, Nov. 28, 2013

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