Men handing over his credit card to Women

Santa Claus is on his way, and he has high expectations for your holiday spending. But just because the holidays are here, doesn’t mean it’s okay to blow your budgets- and it doesn’t mean that not spending your savings makes you an Ebeneser Scrooge. Careful planning is key to reducing the stress of the holidays, and maybe even escaping the year-end festivities without going into debt.

Think back to last year. Do you remember experiencing buyer’s remorse at any point? If you took on on too many extra expenses on your credit or debit card or careened off of your planned shopping list, those foibles may be a good place to start.

The stress of holiday shopping at the last-minute and the guilt that can come from the feeling of not having purchased enough presents are major pitfalls. People often succumb to the urge to spend more to avoid feeling like the Grinch. After years of falling into this same pattern, you’d think we’d catch on. Yet we continue to buckle under the pressure and let the “Christmas Spirit” lead us to make poor spending decisions. Well, here are 5 helpful reminders you can use to make your wallet grow six sizes on that day.

Don’t forget to track your spending

As we’ve already established, holiday shoppers are plagued with emotions that make level headed shopping difficult. Think of shopping during the holiday season as being similar to driving under the influence. Your judgment and self-control are likely to be impaired. Let your shopping list be your designated driver- and hand it the keys.

Don’t carry revolving debt from last year

Revolving debt derived credit is dangerous to use anytime. It’s a fast and easy way to get credit, however revolving credit is one of the factors that determines your credit score. It’s also a highway to getting in over your head. If you plan carefully, revolving debt can be acceptable for one year. But if you’re carrying revolving debt from a previous holiday season, taking on more this year probably means you’ve waded into deep water and this could affect your credit.

Remember the holidays are ideal for scammers

If you need any more proof that the “holiday feeling’ isn’t entirely a positive thing- consider the fact that scam artists use the vulnerability that the Christmas spirit creates in holiday shoppers to their advantage. If you receive an offer that you would think twice about any other time of year, remove the X-Mas sentiment from the message and see if it still sounds merry.

Take care when applying for in-store credit cards

With a nod to what we’ve realized about holiday scammers, be mindful of the fact that in-store credit can be just as mercenary. Store credit can be good if you do a lot of regular shopping with them. But If you’re applying for store credit just for gifts, the rewards system will never pan out.

Don’t forget about rewards on credit cards- or focus on them too much

If you already have an in-store credit card that you have been working toward rewards on, using it for holiday shopping can pay off. Just make sure, you’re watching those high in-store interest rates.