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Too much gift giving over the holidays? Tips to get on track

Florida residents are known for their generosity to those around them, especially during the holiday season. If you are one of those generous individuals, you are often willing to do almost anything for your family and close friends. Sometimes this means getting them the perfect gift in December, and sometimes this means a bit of a credit card hangover when New Year's Eve rolls around.

Here we are once again on the very verge of another year and a lot of us may be looking at our online credit card balance fearing the due date. Credit card debt is something that most people experience whether it is a couple hundred dollars or several thousands. It can be a daunting burden to carry, but there are some ways to get back on track after holiday spending.

How do you do it? The first thing to do is set a budget and stick by it. The most common New Year's resolution is to cut out the fat, whether it is financial or fitness. While we all know that this can be a difficult task -- for either kind of goal -- the rewards are worth the hard work.

As a part of your budget, you should keep in mind the debt-to-credit ratio. FICO recommendations are to stay within 20 percent of your available credit line. "Maxing out" is one of the easiest ways to get behind, but a 20 percent ratio has been determined to be a limit that most people can afford to live with.

If credit cards are truly the problem with "budget-keeping" the simplest solution is to stop using them. Take out cash in keeping with the budget; it is easier to stay on track when there is a tangible limit. Pre-fill debit cards are a great way to conduct the "cash method" without feeling unsafe carrying on your person or leaving cash in the house.

Try to develop an emergency fund in your checking account during the year. This can help with future spending splurges, keeping you out of debt even after a gifting binge.

Source:Fox Business, "Warning Signs for Holiday Credit Card Debt," Dana Dratch, Dec. 20, 2012

When debt becomes too much to fix with some simple tips and tricks, Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy provide two distinctive and helpful debt relief solutions.

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At the Tampa Bay law firm, the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller, P.A., we help people with consumer bankruptcy matters in the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg,  Florida communities such as Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Thonotosassa, Riverview, Lutz, Plant City, Brandon, Carrollwood, Wesley Chapel, St. Petersburg Beach, Lakeland, Mulberry, Dade City, Pinellas Park, Largo, Seminole, Odessa, Oldsmar and Lithia, and counties such as Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County and Manatee County.