For the majority of holiday shoppers, overspending is the norm—even in cases where they’ve created a budget. Studies show that shoppers are willing to overspend if a deal is too good to pass up or to get the perfect gift for a loved one. I know for myself, it takes more than just willpower to avoid overspending on my holiday budget. If you also need a little extra help sticking to your shopping budget, consider doing what I do—loading a set amount of money on a prepaid debit card! For example, if my holiday budget is $400, I load $400 onto my prepaid debit card and then only bring that card and nothing else—no cash, no checks, no credit cards—with me when I do my holiday shopping.
Keep in mind that a prepaid debit card is very different from a traditional bank account debit card. Whereas a bank account debit card is linked to funds in your bank checking or savings account, a prepaid debit card involves paying in advance to load funds onto the card and then using the money you have pre-loaded onto the card. Depending on what type of prepaid debit card you choose to use, there can be varying fees, such as fees for ATM withdrawal, ATM balance inquiry, monthly fees or a fee for every time you use the card. According to a July 2013 Consumer Reports survey, the three best prepaid debit cards are the American Express Bluebird Card, the H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCard and the Green Dot Prepaid Card. Using one of these cards is a great way to keep your budget in check this season, avoiding the dreaded “holiday debt hangover” come January!