It may not feel like it now, but the holidays are just around the corner. With them comes the temptation to overindulge. We know well enough to refuse that extra gingerbread for what it can do to our waistlines, but we’re aren’t always as savvy when it comes to the affects our spending has on our finances. As we prepare our belts for a season of overeating, it’s only fair our budgets deserve some attention too. Without careful planning, it’s far too easy to get swept up by holiday cheer and spend more than we intend this year.

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You wouldn’t be alone. The average American adds nearly $1,000 in debt around the holidays thanks to expensive gifts, lavish parties, and fewer hours worked. If you’re worried about how your finances will fare after all the festivities, check in with this quick budget-friendly guide to the holidays. Here are five easy ways to keep your holiday spending on track.

Stay Organized

As the countdown begins in earnest, you may feel pressured to rush through your list. In the frenzy, you can end up committing financial faux-pas that can put your household at risk. A disorganized approach to the season is a fast way to get into the red. That’s why you should arm yourself with lists, budgets, and any other organizational device that can help you keep track of your spending.

Before even the Black Friday sales tempt you, pull up your online bank account and determine how much you can spend on presents, decorations, travel, and food. If you aren’t sure how to create a holiday budget, use a guide like this one to help.

Once you have a number for each category, brainstorm ideas that fit within the price range and note them down on a list. Have this list at the ready whenever you hit the mall and stick to it. Try to resist impulse purchases that lead you astray.

Start Early

We’ve all heard that the early bird gets the worm, and in case of the holidays, it’s not just a cliché! According to the American Research Group, you can save as much as $250 if you start your shopping months in advance.

If you’re prone to shopping last minute, use these savings as an incentive to get cracking. And in the spirit of organization, key in shopping times into your calendar. An official entry is a lot harder to ignore than a silent promise to yourself, so you’ll be less likely to avoid the task when it counts.

Shop Sparingly

We’re not just talking about shopping less. When and how often you hit the shops will also affect how much you spend. In what’s called the shopping momentum effect, psychologists describe the increased chances of spending more once an initial purchase is made. It’s like breaking the seal. After we get over the initial discomfort of swiping our credit cards, we usually fall into a mindset that makes it easier for us to justify our continued use of our cards.

Rather than letting your holiday spending snowball from store to store, sit on a bench between stores or check your email before you proceed to the next online checkout. Break out of the spending cycle and get a clear head, so you can identify which purchases are necessary for the season and which ones are not!

Get Help

Santa has his elves. It’s only fair you get some assistance too. Where you get your financial help may not come in an obvious package. While Santa has a team of industrious supernatural beings at his disposal, you have the loan specialists at online lenders like MoneyKey to help you along.

As much as you plan to avoid it by reading articles like these, overspending happens. It’s easy to dip into savings that you set aside for emergency repairs only to find yourself a little short when these bills come due. Knowing you have a backup can take some of the stress you feel over your finances, and these personal loans are perfect for when the holidays leave you unprepared for your return to reality.

No matter what you celebrate, the holidays can get expensive. To avoid a holiday hangover you can’t blame on the mulled wine, you need to start planning for this pricey time of the year as soon as possible. Use this guide to get organized and stay away from overspending. It may be the only way you arrive in the New Year without nursing holiday debt.

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