Preparing To Keep Yourself In The Black After Black Friday

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- The night before Thanksgiving means no rest of those who work in retail.

It means that the rush is on to get ready for “Black Friday” and the official start of the shopping season.

The early Thanksgiving brings not only an extra week of shopping but seven more days of temptation.

The trick is to use that time to plan, rather than panic.

Check out some of the check-out lines and you would think some folks are already through giving thanks.

“We decided we didn’t want to fight the crowds this time,” said Cheri Fray, an early shopper, “and we’re finding great sales.”

Many people are already getting into the Santa and Hanukkah shopping mode.

“We thought we'd get in before it got too crazy,” said Heather Laing, an early Hanukkah shopper.

Plenty of signs point to some good deals, but negatives do exist.

“There's a lot of carryover debt after Christmas,” said Anna Seale of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

The stores and the polls tell us about a quarter of us plan to spend less this Christmas.

That is a big reason why some experts predict overall spending may be up less than four percent over last year.

But almost a third plan to spend a grand, an easy accomplishment when you have a large family.

“I have six grandkids, three kids, parents and sisters, you know,” said Fray.

“And she doesn't have a budget,” said Fray’s husband Scott.

So how do Scott and Cheri stay above the fray?

“By trying to get good sales, but I don't have a dollar amount set aside,” said Cheri.

“We're not charging it, we just use our check card,” said Scott.

Still, credit counselors say, most of us would do better by taking after Heather Laing and making firm shopping lists.

“I’ve been looking for ideas probably all year long,” Laing said, “and seeing what's out there that somebody might like.

She also sets spending limits for each gift and is very careful when charging on new store accounts because they can have large carrying charges.

“Usually they'll be over 20 percent, so if you save 20 percent today and don’t pay it off and carry a balance, next time they're going to charge you 20 plus percent,” said Anna Seale.

Anna's advice is to consider a cash only Christmas.

Heather's Hanukah hint?

“I don't give them advice, I would just watch them go through the roller coaster,” she said.

Scott learned long ago to just sit back and watch.

“It’s all her,” he said, “you're just there to push the cart.”

Scott's not giving himself enough credit, literally, no credit at all.

The Fray's use a cash only spending system that works because it's pay as you go, a budget without calling itself a budget

Credit counselors say we need to consider a budget as freedom, rather than confinement.

Freedom, as in free from worrying later on about how to pay for all the holiday cheer.

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