It is not uncommon for consumers nationwide, and also here in Arkansas, to start their holiday shopping in November and spread it over the weeks leading up to the holidays. If purchases are not monitored during this time, the credit card bills in January can come as a shock. Those who find themselves unable to make the required payments may expose themselves to creditor harassment and threats of foreclosure, repossession and wage garnishments.

The Better Business Bureau recently published some advice to help consumers avoid overextending their finances. The BBB suggests that consumers create a budget that will not max out their credit cards and clear out their bank accounts. It says that making a list of gift recipients is a good idea, as long as it is limited to close family and friends — and, no names must be added during shopping trips. By looking for gift ideas online and comparing prices, a shopper may find suitable gifts within the budget.

Impulsive purchases are often the cause of breaking the budget. BBB suggests that all-day shopping trips must be avoided as one or two hours will limit the time to be impulsive. Going prepared with a list of names and already identified gift ideas for each person, and sticking to the original budget, can prevent many months of excessive credit card obligations.

Nevertheless, Arkansas consumers who find themselves overwhelmed by creditor harassment over unpaid credit card debts may find comfort in knowing that remedies exist. By consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, a consumer can gain the necessary knowledge about the available options. A lawyer can explain the protection offered by personal bankruptcy, and the rules related to eligibility for the different bankruptcy chapters. This may allow consumers to make informed decisions that may assist them in regaining control of their finances.

Source:, “Tips to keep debt low over the holidays“, Sharane Gott, Dec. 6, 2015