Advice for Starting the New Year Off Debt-Free

Pay now or pay later? That's the question for many shoppers this holiday season.

Other shoppers have a spending plan.

Scott Treadway, a Tallahassee resident, says, "I've saved up prior to the Christmas season and hope to pay off any charges on my credit cards in January."

Others aren't too concerned about paying later, saying that's what Visa and MasterCard are for. Still, there are some simple ways to avoid spending your limit.

Bruce Hagan, a certified financial planner, says, "One of the most important things is either write a check or pay cash, because if you do that you're more likely to see the significance of that money."

If you already have a hefty credit card balance, Hagan says to look for a credit card with a no interest rate balance transfer. This will save you in interest charges. A consolidation loan could be an easy way to consolidate all your debts into one payment with a lower interest rate. Stick to these tips and to your budget and you're sure to have a merry Christmas and a debt free new year.

Advisors also say if you do use a credit card make sure to predetermine how much you'll charge and don't go over that amount.