Beware of overspending this holiday season!

As someone who studied and works in marketing and consumer psychology, I know full well how tempting it can be for consumers to spend money they don't have.

You walk into a store and see shoes to die for that would look great with the spaghetti strap dress you bought moments ago. Or, you see a shirt you know your brother would dig, a pair of earrings that your mom will go gaga over, and a tool set that has your uncle's name all over it.

Whether you're buying gifts for yourself or for friends/family, it makes sense to scour the internet and newspaper for the best deals you can find.

Still, if you see that if your shopping list could easily translate into hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in credit card debt, you'd be wise to pare it down a bit.

You can start by only buying one gift per adult. Better yet, why not get one gift per couple? Things like towel sets and silverware sets are items for the home that anyone can use.

You may be tempted to buy the little ones a slew of toys, but that can add up pretty quickly. Instead, buy each kid one item you know they'll cherish, whether it's an action figure of their favorite super hero or an educational game they've been yearning for.

In order to get the most bang for your buck, you need to shop smart. Stick to a certain budget, and once you see yourself on the verge of going over it, stop and reassess what's in your shopping cart. Do you really need to get your cousin a $50 shirt?

And before you set out for the mall, be sure to take a good wad of cash with you. The more cash you have on hand, the less you'll have to resort to credit cards, which tempt you into overspending and leave you at the mercy of exorbitant interest charges (assuming you're unable to pay everything in one shot).

And, as noted in prior posts, resist the lure of advertisements that try to coax you into buying things -- however expensive -- that you or your loved ones may not even need or want.

By heeding these tips this holiday season, you'll be a more savvy shopper. Just remember to stay within that budget and not fork over any money for pricey things from which you or those around you may not derive much enjoyment.

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