Award-Winning Book, MONEY SMART by Mary C. Kelly, Shows How to Celebrate Debt-Free Holidays

DENVER, Dec. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ Many families will ring in the New Year with debt as they overspend during the holidays. But it doesn't have to be that way.

"Showing our family and friends we care often means spending more than we can afford," says Mary C. Kelly, economist and author of "Money Smart: How Not to Buy Cat Food When You Don't Have a Cat," which won the Pinnacle Best Book Award.

"Families often get into financial trouble during the holidays because they want to surprise someone with something really special, or they want to take advantage of a good deal, such as the Black Friday sales," explained Kelly, who delivers keynote speeches and full-day training seminars for companies and associations on topics related to economics, personal finance, and leadership.

People tend to overspend in November and December and then it takes months to pay off credit cards bills, she said.

In November, the US average credit card debt was $15,115. Kelly says only mortgage debt and student loan debt are higher than credit card debt.

How do we enjoy the holidays, celebrate our family and friends, and be generous without getting ourselves stuck in the red?

Kelly encourages people and businesses to stay solvent with these tips:

1. Create a list with categories and costs for who gets a really nice present such as family members who get a new computer or a phone; clients who get a gift basket; friends who get a smaller present, like a shirt or a book; neighbors who might get cookies; and acquaintances who get cards.

2. Establish a budget, talk with your partner and agree to stick to it. Promise not to deviate from the budget unless you both agree. "This works at home and in business," explains Kelly. "Simply being accountable for the expenses is important to staying on track."

3. Keep all the Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas cards of the people who sent you something this year and write down if there was a gift and what it was. That helps with creating your categories, and it also helps to verify addresses for people who may have moved.

4. Shop around. Kelly says your computer or smart phone can be your best friend because you may find the item online for less money. Search for the exact model of the product you want to buy.

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