The average American will spend a little more than $700 on the holidays this year, between gifts and decorations, according to the National Retail Federation.
With 52 percent of Floridians living paycheck to paycheck, that's often money they don't have, said Ellen Harnick, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending.
"Anyone who you love enough to be out there shopping for a gift for does not want you to take on a debt obligation that's going to put you in financial peril for the rest of the year," she said.
Harnick said it's important to set a reasonable budget and stick to it rather than run up your credit cards to buy gifts. She said one in eight Americans have more than $10,000 in credit card debt and it's a hard cycle to get out of.
Harnick also warns against opting for payday loans, which are legal in Florida.
"Getting the loan, even at a rate charged by a finance company, can set you on a cycle where it's very, very hard to dig out," she said.
The rates charged by payday lending companies can be as high as 400 percent.
Harnick recommends spending within your budget this year and putting away money each month to fund 2013 holiday spending.
- Florida News Connection