Your Money: Avoiding Holiday Debt

It's crunch time for Christmas shoppers, and stores are pulling out all the stops - like extended hours and last-minute sales. But with the pressure on, and certain items dwindling on store shelves, it's easy to end up buying things you never planned to buy. But experts say it's never too late to make a list and stick to it.

"Have a very descriptive list of who you're going to shop for," says Farnoosh Torabi, a personal finance expert. "Also list the budget, and a couple of back-up gifts, so you're not just buying whatever you see and feeling guilty, and buying it just because you don't have time. Really have a strategy. Make that list your best friend."

Another tip, leave credit cards at home. Avoid holiday debt by using only cash in your wallet. And if you're tempted by an offer for a store credit card, make sure you know all the terms - especially the interest rate. The instant savings may be big, but if you don't pay that balance off right away, the bills can linger much longer.