Holiday season is here! And it’s no secret—this is the season of shopping and spending. According to a recent study by Gallup, consumers estimate they will spend $942 on gifts this year, which is up sharply from 2018 spending. Plus, a record-high 37% of survey respondents said they plan to spend $1,000 or more.

A spike in spending—plus navigating busy schedules, entertaining family and friends, and planning vacations—can be stressful. Or worse, it can cause added debt and forgotten or unpaid bills to face in the New Year.

Make your budget and check it twice

Take a step back to set your holiday allowance. Brainstorm all of the potential spending you’ll have this season—think about things like gifts, food, travel, parties and special events. Once you have a list in place, start to prioritize—for example, can you truly afford tickets to a concert if you have New Year’s travel plans coming up?

A bit of pre-planning can help you stay on track with your spending without bouncing checks or incurring overdraft fees by accident.

Enjoy peace of mind with a jolly credit score

During this high-spending time of the year, it’s more important than ever to look out for your credit score which has an influence on things such as loan applications and interest rates.

Be sure you stick to best practices: Pay your bills in full and on time; track how much you’re putting on one particular bill; and be wary of new credit inquiries that can affect your credit score and encourage large purchases you can’t truly afford.

Curb the spending—not the festive fun!

Just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean you have to be a holiday Grinch. Check out these ideas to get in the holiday spirit AND spend less:

  • Give the gift of labor. Coupons for things like cleaning, errands, and babysitting can make a fabulous present for family or friends.
  • Dine in! Have a festive night at home with your family instead of going out. Bake cookies, light a fire, and play board games to avoid an expensive evening out.
  • Look for free events. Find your community’s events calendar to see what’s happening locally this holiday season so you can get out and about—for free!

Lastly, it’s always smart to be on the look-out for fraud, identity theft, and account security when you’re spending. Check out: 10 DO’s and DON’Ts to keep your personal information safe and secure this winter.