Christmas is a time of giving, but it doesn’t also need to be a time of crippling debt. Many people commonly spend more than they have around this time of year. It may be out of generosity, or it may be a lack of impulse control, but the result is the same: they start a new year with debt that can take months to clear.

Do you tend to fall into this seasonal trap? Here are some ideas that can help make this year a different story:

Start Saving Early

If you know there are a number of people you want to buy for, start putting some money aside each month early in the year.

Plan Carefully

Draw up a list of everyone you plan to buy for, plus how much you would like to spend on each person. Do you have enough money to cover that total? If not, go through it again.

Use Cash

Credit cards can be incredibly handy, but they also allow us to easily spend well beyond our means. Paying for things in cash helps to put a limit to that. If you must use a credit card, choose the one with the lowest monthly interest rate.

Watch Out for Sales

There are many great bargains out there this time of year, but make sure you allow yourself enough time to seek them out. Leaving Christmas gift hunting until the last-minute means taking what you can get, and that is rarely a good deal.

Avoid Self-Gifting

It can be extremely tempting to buy things for yourself at the same time, but don’t do it. ‘Tis the season to give, not receive.

Use Those Reward Points

Many stores and credit card companies now offer reward points as an incentive. If you have some, use them to get price reductions or free things you can use as gifts.