Are you bedazzled by enticing Holiday Sales, signs promising 50% off, along with offers of both free shipping and free returns this holiday season? Are you spending too much money? Do you feel you have to give the “best” gifts in your family? Do your emotions push you into unrealistic purchases? Ready to break the cycle of over-spending and avoiding a Christmas shopping hangover?

Shoppers will likely spend 10 percent more this holiday season; an average of $935.58 each, states the National Retail Federation. Many people also buy a gift for themselves, adding another $100 to the total amount.

Consumers with annual household incomes less than $50,000 will likely increase their percentage spending levels even more than consumers overall. Many shoppers are expected to increase their digital shopping by 25 percent, and it has become much easier to buy on mobile devices.

Pet owners – almost half of all households nationwide – are projected to buy gifts for their animal companions, spending an average of $62.

Here’s how to take advantage of all the holiday sales and avoid financial headaches!

Don’t use credit cards when faced with holiday sales.
Plan ahead with a set amount of money.
Use debit cards or cash.

Give your budget some wiggle room: When you come up with a holiday budget, add at least 10%. That way, if you are at your limit, you can cut back to 90% of that budget. Some states have nearly 10% of taxes that can be added to the total. Leave yourself a buffer to allow flexibility if you can’t find a gift for the price you wanted.

Pay your everyday bills first, don’t get hit with late fees to purchase gifts.

Be practical: Do you really need to buy a $40 bottle of wine when a $12 bottle will do just fine?

Again: Stick to your budget!

Still seduced by the “deals?”
Freeze your credit cards in water until January 1 — Literally!

Once Christmas is over, review what you did well and what you didn’t. Explore new options for 2017. Here’s a secret from Santa, start saving for Christmas now!

Happy Holidays!