If you want to avoid starting next year with a pile of debt, plan well, shop smart and remember the main reason for the upcoming holiday season. These budgeting tips will help you shop smart and make the most of your money.

Decide How Much You Can Spend

The best way you can craft a realistic budget for this year’s Christmas and New Year holiday season is to review your last year’s spending. Planning your budget can take a lot of time, so it makes sense to start as early as possible. Once you have identified where the money you part aside for the same holiday season often goes, tailor your budget to this upcoming holiday ‘s plans. Apart from gifts, include travel and hosting expenses and often overlooked expenses such as holiday tips for service providers and holiday mailers.

Make a List

Armed with your budget, craft a detailed list of all the people you want to buy for them a gift. Check the list twice and decide how much you are able to spend on each of the items. If you cannot get an expensive gift, go for affordable ones. Also, write all the festivities for which you will require to buy food and drink, from Christmas to New Year celebration parties. Ensure you list all items you will need to spend on this upcoming holiday season, from gifts and meals to parties and lodging.

Tweak Your Budget Temporarily

If you have limited resources and cannot finance your holiday budget, you may want to institute an emergency budgeting protocol that way you would for an unforeseen huge expense such as a home repair or medical bill. You can take temporary measures like slashing some areas of the budget, selling your unwanted stuff, sending e-cards, and putting some saving goals on hold for a month or two so as to free up extra room in your budget.

Consider New Credit Card

There are credit card companies that offer substantial bonuses to qualified consumers who spend certain amounts of money within the first three months. Depending on the cards you are using, a new credit card can offset your spending for this upcoming holiday and potentially offer richer rewards, particularly if you manage it responsibly.

Stockpile Discount Gifts Cards

Another great money-saver for the upcoming holiday is discount gift cards. You can compare discounts that different card re-sellers offer using GiftCardGranny.com and consider selling any gift cards that you have and are lying around for extra holiday cash. Also, you can use them as gifts or currency to save money on actual purchases.

Remember the Reason for the Season

Keeping the spiritual message of the Christmas and New Year holiday front and center is a good antidote to the holiday challenges. Instead of spending the few weeks leading to this upcoming holiday season budgeting and walking to and from the shopping mall, it would be a lot better gift to spend your time with your family and friends. You can enjoy the season without spending beyond your financial ability.

David Milberg is a financial expert from NYC.