Good Day Chicago: How to Avoid Holiday Debt

Andrea was in The Windy City recently, speaking with FOX Good Day Chicago’s Melody Mendez about how to avoid going into debt during the busy holiday shopping season. If you missed it, here are Andrea’s 10 simple steps to saving money:

1. Sell Your Stuff: Now is a great time to collect all the clutter in your house — clothing, shoes, old gadgets, etc. — and sell them for cash. Whatever cash you collect, use it specifically for holiday shopping to offset your costs this season. In addition to local trade-in and consignment shops, look online at for clothing, or for electronics, or even eBay or Craigslist for other general items.

2. Track Flights: As you book holiday flights, use to track prices so you can request a price adjustment from the airline if your itinerary drops in price.

3. Buy Discount Gift Cards: Gift cards are the most popular holiday gift for the eighth year in a row according to the National Retail Federation. You can purchase gift cards at popular stores for a discount through sites like You can also use discount gift cards to save money on gifts you plan to buy. Plan to stock up on gift cards a week to 10 days before you go shopping to ensure you receive them in time!

4. Eliminate Excess Spending: Review your spending and start cutting down unnecessary purchases like daily lattes, dining out, extra shopping trips, etc. You don’t have to cut out all the fun, but by cutting down, you can use the money you save toward holiday shopping.

5. Stash Your Savings: When you opt not to spend money on something, stash what you would have spent into a savings account to use toward holiday shopping. The service allows you to open savings account for various goals, and you’ll be more motivated to stash your cash as you see your balance grow!

6. Anticipate Hidden Costs: Gifts, decor and travel are common holiday expenses, but other essentials like postage and delivery fees, holiday parties and hostess gifts, and even holiday tips can quickly bust your budget if you don’t plan for them. Take the time to outline all the expenses you might incur and adjust your budget accordingly.

7. Consider Side Hustles: If you need to bring in extra cash this holiday season, consider getting part-time work at a retailer for a new stream of income and a great employee discount to use toward gifts! If you don’t have time for a part-time job, consider marketing your skills on or helping people complete tasks like dog-walking, grocery pick-up and more through

8. Round Up Your Rewards: Now is the time to evaluate your credit card reward points and either use them toward travel or redeem them for gift cards to use as gifts or toward your holiday shopping. These rewards are accrued as a result of your spending, so it’s wasteful not to use them for savings!

9. Start Scouting and Collecting Gifts: By now, we all know waiting until the last minute to buy all our gifts will result in overspending and increased anxiety. Plus, it puts all the burden of your purchasing into one month. Start scouting for gifts now and cross off items on your list as they go on sale. Use tools like the Coupon Sherpa mobile app to look for extra discounts while you’re shopping in store.

10. Research Layaway Thoroughly: Walmart, Toys ‘R Us and Kmart are all waiving setup fees for layaway, making it cheaper to open an account. Be sure to know the details and deadlines of layaway before you commit, as most programs have a $10 cancellation fee and require all items be purchased and paid for by mid-December.

Andrea Woroch

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who regularly contributes to leading national and regional news stories. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show, Dr. OZ, Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, CNN, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, and been quoted in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Better Homes & Garden and many others. Andrea also enjoys writing articles for various personal finance and lifestyle websites and blogs. Andrea is passionate about sharing ideas and tips to help you live on less without having to sacrifice. She says making a few small tweaks to daily and monthly spending is all you need to do to achieve your dreams within your means. Follow Andrea on Facebook and Twitter for daily savings tips and check back for new videos, magazine stories and blog posts all about saving money!

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