By Pat Loeb

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Christmas shopping season can be a perilous time for families struggling with credit issues, but Philadelphia’s Financial Empowerment Centers can help.

Betty and Wilma made it seem like so much fun — just put those purchases on plastic. But Carey Morgan, the center’s director, says the fun often turns to panic when the bills arrive.

“I anticipate that a lot of people will be coming into our centers, realizing they spent far too much over the holidays,” Morgan says, adding that the time to avoid that fate is now.

“People should try to plan ahead and really look at what they can afford to spend this Christmas season. Giving is great, but you can’t give what you don’t have,” she adds.

Morgan notes interest charges and penalties can turn a big sale into a bad deal, but she says bad credit is more than a money matter: it can impact chances for housing and employment.

“When you’re doing holiday spending, think about what that bill might look like after January first,” Morgan concludes.

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