During last year's holiday season, 35% of Americans took on an average of $1,549 of new debt, according to a report from LendingTree.com. Here are some steps to consider that will let you spread holiday cheer without breaking the bank.
Create a written budget for holiday gifts. Write out a list of everyone you plan to buy for this holiday season, plus events that will require you to purchase food or other supplies. Assign each gift and get-together a dollar value you want to spend on them, then try to stick to your holiday budget once you start to shop.
Reduce the number of gifts needed. Consider if there are people or events that you can cut back on what you purchase. For example, family members or neighbors you only speak with once or twice a year could be given a card instead of a more expensive gift.
Pay in cash instead of credit. Paying for gifts with cash or a debit card can help you avoid overspending that may happen with a credit card. Just make sure to track your spending as you go, and limit gift costs to the limits you assigned people in your budget.
Redeem credit card rewards you haven't used. If you have any lingering credit card rewards you haven't used, including cash back, see if you can redeem them for gift cards or merchandise.
Shop around for deals. Keep your eyes peeled for bargains, sales, and outlets. Now more than ever, retailers are looking to move their inventory. While the early bird might get the worm, the patient shopper might get the best deal.