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How you can avoid holiday debt going into 2021

Experts say the new year doesn't have to become your worst nightmare financially.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It is the season to be jolly, but 2020 has been anything but jolly for most of us. Luckily, experts say the new year doesn't have to become your worst nightmare financially.

"What I see is a lot of fear and concern," said financial attorney Leslie Tayne.

Tayne says she is telling clients to not fall into the pitfall of emotional spending.

"It is OK not to be OK right now and to be feeling this way," Tayne said, "but don't let that translate into spending."

Her advice is to set a budget and hold yourself accountable.

"Now more than ever, you have to be super strong and focused," Tayne said.

In 2019, consumers spent $1,050 on average during the holiday season.

Teneshia LaFaye, also known as Miss Money Sense, says 30% of those consumers are still paying that bill.  

"Christmas is one day and the kids are going to forget what you bought them by New Years," she said.

LaFaye is also a strong proponent of crafting a holiday spending budget to avoid debt. She also says, as parents, you need to reduce your children's level of expectations.  

"You've got to teach your children they can't get everything they want," she said.

The author of "How to Survive and Thrive in a Recession" says 2020 is in a recession. But on a personal level, she knows the reality of being in debt and the burden it carries.

"I would say shorten your holiday list and don't get everything it is more about creating memories and not holiday debt," said LaFaye,

Financial experts say they're not the Grinch who stole Christmas, but 2020 is not your average year either with the pandemic. 

"These are not normal times," she said.

They see their role as a reminder that it has been a stressful year and they say 2021 doesn't have to be; be smart.

"Don't set yourself up for an even hardship in the new year, don't do it," said Lafaye.

And if your mortgage is in forbearance, your student loan deferred, or your rent is on hold because of a stay of eviction, they may all come to an end in 2020 becoming another financial burden in the new year.