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Consumers may tend to go a little over their budgets during the holiday season due to last-minute shopping. They may even find themselves in post-holiday debt because they are charging their gifts instead of using cash. There are plenty of ways you can recover from a “holiday spending hangover” to ensure you have a financially happy new year.

Here are four tips to help you get started.

1. Create a Spending Budget

If you haven’t done your holiday shopping yet, then it is imperative to follow a spending plan. Try not to splurge just because you are in a rush. Keep looking for those deals! Consider knowing how much you plan to spend at the store before you go and bring cash to avoid falling into credit card debt later on. (Not sure how your credit card spending affects your overall financial health? You can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

If you have finished your shopping already, then you might want to create a new budget for 2017. Decide how you plan to attack your debt. If you know you went a little over budget, don’t fret! Take a look at what expenses you can cut back on — this will help you boost your cash flow and help you put more money toward your credit card bills. You will be surprised to see how much you can save from eliminating nonessential expenses such as eating out for lunch or your everyday coffee.

2. Take Advantage of Rewards

Even though using cash can keep you out of debt, credit cards can also be your friend during the holiday season. Consider speaking with your provider or checking your online bank to see if you have any rewards you can put to use. Sometimes rewards can be turned to cash or gift cards for you to spend. Consider using some of your rewards on holiday shopping rather than racking up the charges on your card. Try to use your credit card responsibly.

3. Put Your Credit Cards in Your Desk Drawer

When holiday shopping, try your best to steer clear of the credit card. Credit cards are not free cash! If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off the expense for an item you are purchasing at the end of the month, then you probably shouldn’t be purchasing it. Holiday shopping can be a stressful task, and sometimes consumers swipe their credit cards without thinking. Consider leaving your card at home. You can even put it away in your office drawer if you know you won’t be able to resist using it if it’s in your wallet.

4. Plan Early for the Holidays Next Season

Planning ahead is super important when it comes to holiday shopping. You might even get lucky and find a huge deal if you shop months ahead. If you always plan in advance and take the time to save for your holiday spending, then you will never find yourself with a holiday debt hangover. If you think you won’t have enough for Christmas 2017, then consider cutting back on some expenses or picking up a side hustle to help you stay within budget.

Image: Martin Dimitrov

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