I don’t mean to depress you, but be careful with your holiday shopping.

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So, I read an obscure study this week that has nothing to do with holiday shopping – except it has everything to do with holiday shopping.

A payroll software firm call Paycom reports that 1 in 5 Americans experience “payroll errors” that either reduce or delay their paychecks. While most of these mistakes are quickly corrected, even a few days’ delay can be stressful and even painful.

“Nearly 6 in 10 Americans would have difficulty paying bills and making purchases if just $100 were missing from their check,” Paycom learned. That means they would…

  • “skip utility bill payments”
  • “overdraw their checking accounts”
  • “forgo groceries”
  • “miss rent, mortgage, loan and/or credit card payments”

Here’s where the holidays come in: I bet you those same people are running up their credit cards right now, buying holiday gifts for friends and family.

In fact, don’t bet me – because you’d lose. Debt.com has already conducted a holiday poll of nearly 800 adults that concludes, “Half are taking on debt to cover their spending.”

On Halloween, I wrote about how to avoid going into holiday debt. I’ll repeat more bluntly what I said then: If your friends and family truly love you, they don’t want you to overspend on them. No one who loves you wants you to get a credit card bill in January that you can’t possibly pay off.

So, to tie this back to the beginning: If missing even $100 from your paycheck would force you to not buy some basic stuff, why the heck are you running up your credit cards right now? The holidays are supposed to be about family time, not financial stress.

Now, every time I say something like this, I hear from my fans. They usually tell me something that goes like this…

Vicki, I hear what you’re saying. And yeah, life should work that way. But it just doesn’t. What happens if I do as you suggest? What if I make some homemade gifts and offer to do some chores, but then everyone else buys me expensive stuff? I’ll look cheap. Even worse, I’ll look ungrateful!

I understand that completely. Trust me, as a reality TV star, I know a lot of the drama was over misunderstandings about money – specifically, who spent how much on what for whom.

I should add something to my earlier article: It takes a village. You need to conspire with your friends and family now, before everyone goes holiday-shopping crazy. If you’ve ever done a gift swap at work, you’re familiar with the conversation. You all agree to spend no more than a certain amount, and then you stick to it – because anyone who spends more than the agreed-upon amount will make everyone else furious.

If you’ve done this before, think about it for a moment. Did that limit also limit your affection for your coworkers? Or was it still a fun gift exchange? Did you still laugh? Did you still bond?

To answer one more question: If that was just fine at work, why can’t it be even better at home?

To get help with credit card debt, call Debt.com at 844-844-2543.

You’ll receive a free debt analysis from a trained credit counselor. That counselor will lay out all your options. You’re not required to do anything, and you can think about it and call back later. But whatever you do, don’t take on debt to get through the holiday season.

Call Debt.com at (844) 844-2543 for a free debt analysis from a certified credit counselor and for more information, check out: debt.com/vicki

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About the Author

Vicki Gunvalson

Vicki Gunvalson

Before Vicki Gunvalson starred on Bravo TV’s hit series “Real Housewives of Orange County” – which launched the franchise in 2006 – she was already a financial expert. Gunvalson has owned and operated Coto Insurance for three decades. Based in Irvine, California, Coto has been ranked among the top 1 percent of insurance companies nationwide, with more than 10,000 clients in those 30 years. Coto’s success helped Gunvalson become a member of the Million Dollar Round Table – which represents the top life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 70 countries. She continued to grow Coto during 16 salacious years on the hit show and subsequent celebrity projects. But it wasn’t just Coto that has earned Gunvalson praise and awards for her financial acumen. Licensed in every state not just as an insurance agent but also a retirement specialist, she has made it her mission to help people – especially women – become financially independent. She has partnered with Debt.com to help even more of them. “I’ve counseled thousands of Americans who experienced their own melodrama – over money,” Gunvalson says. “Debt.com is in some ways exactly like me – and in other ways, unlike me. We both care deeply about getting good people in better financial shape. But unlike me, they do it quietly!”

Published by Debt.com, LLC