While the Christmas holidays are a time to celebrate and be with family, many people often end up greeting the New Year in a less than joyous mood mainly due to the staggering amount of debt that they have to pay off. The pressure to be ‘generous’ during the season makes it all too easy to give in to the temptation to spend. After all, you are charging all of it on your credit card.

You do not have to greet the coming year with maxed-out credit cards and a heavy debt burden. Here are some ways that you can avoid holiday debt:

Remember the reason for the season. As already pointed out, Christmas is a time for family. Unfortunately, most people often believe that the best way to express their affection is by giving material presents. The more expensive the gift, the more they believe they are showing their love for the person.

It is important to remember that the quality of the time you spend with your family is more valuable than any gift. After all, material things wear out and get thrown away, but holiday memories can last a lifetime. Thus, instead of going to the mall to shop, you can look for activities that you can do for free or which do not cost much. For example, you can go ice skating or attend community events.

Set a realistic budget. For most of the year people create a budget to ensure that they do not spend too much. But why is it that during the holidays, they feel that they have to remove these limits, just because it’s Christmas? Of course you would like to spend money to buy presents for your family and friends, and for other holiday expenses, but you still have to manage your money responsibly. After all, do you want to greet January with a lot of credit card debt or with no money in your wallet?

One way you can do this is by making a list of your expenses way before December so you can start planning your budget. You can also save money by making a list of people that you want to give gifts to.  Buy presents early before they become more expensive during the holidays.

Keep an eye on your credit card balance. When you charge your holiday expenses to your credit cards, it can be very easy to lose track of how much you are actually spending. Thus, it is very important that you keep track of your spending. Take some time during your day to add up how much you have already charged on your card.

One way you can control your credit card debt is to limit your spending to a certain percentage of your credit limit. For example, you can charge up to 70% of the limit, leaving 30% as a buffer for emergency expenses. Not maxing out your credit limit will also help ensure that you maintain good credit, since using all your credit can cause your credit score to fall.

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