Putting the holidays on credit cards. Credit cards are a convenient way to pay for the holidays when finances are tough, but they're expensive. Credit cards should be thought of as a last defense to be used only after your emergency fund is depleted.

There is no good excuse to add credit card debt when the economy is in bad shape, and that includes celebrating the holiday season. You should instead try to pay down any balance and tuck away the cards for better times.

Pretending nothing is wrong. Some people try to hide financial problems from family and friends by pretending nothing is wrong. To keep up this facade, they shop like they would when the economy is great. You can pretend all you want, but you are eventually going to have to come clean. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for everyone.

The sooner everyone in the family knows, the sooner you can work together as a family to get your finances in a stronger position. By admitting that things are tough and the holidays may need to be a bit leaner than they have in the past, you are taking positive steps to address what needs to be done.

Assuming you're immune. Some people believe they can ignore a recession because they work in an industry that is less vulnerable than others or they think they are indispensable to their employer. Nobody is completely immune during a recession, and you should be planning the holidays with that in mind. It's far easier to find you were overly cautious in your financial planning than not.

There are plenty of ways to have a good time this holiday season without spending a lot. Noting the common spending pitfalls and remembering that the memories people value most can't be bought, you may find that this holiday season is much more fun without all the spending.
Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.

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