The 2019 holiday season has officially arrived, and that means that just about everyone you know is going to be over-extending themselves to keep up with the heavy demands on their budgets that tend to come this time of year.

Those extra expenses like buying gifts and filling up the refrigerator with food and drinks can easily get out of control if you aren’t careful, and even the most conscientious consumers can find themselves racking up some serious credit card debt on account of the spirit of the season.

In order to help you avoid the sticker shock that often comes with opening up those credit card bills in January, let’s take a look at five different tips for keeping your costs under control this holiday season.

Agree to Skip Gifts With Family Members

If your family is like most families, everyone spends time and money that they don’t have to buy gifts for each other that never get used. But all of that can be avoided by simply agreeing upfront to skip gifts this year.

Most people will agree that the true highlight of the holidays is spending time with our loved ones, and that is always going to be more fun without the pressure of paying for gifts that no one really needs or wants in the first place.

Consider Making Something Special

If scraping gifts altogether is a bridge too far for you and your family, you could also try making something instead of charging whatever you happen to find at Sam’s Club on your credit cards.

There are tons and tons of great instructional videos for creating amazing gifts all over the internet, and most of them cost pennies compared to the gifts you will find at the nearest big box store.

Plan Your Shopping and Purchases

If you are fully committed to sticking with traditional gift giving, one of the best ways to do that without getting out of control is to have a plan for what you are going to purchase and how you are going to pay for it.

By simply eliminating the impulsive purchases that we all throw into our carts during a Costco shopping spree, you can make a dramatic reduction in the total cost of your holiday season. But having the discipline to hold strong when those impulses hit can be difficult.

Force Yourself to Pay With Cash

One easy way to help reduce the number of impulse purchases you make this holiday season is to leave those evil credit cards at home and force yourself to pay with cash.

Not only will paying with cash force you to stick to your budget, there is also a proven track record of consumers spending less when they have to pass that cold hard cash from their pocket to the store’s register.

Keep Your Restaurant Expenses on Budget

Another way that the holidays can impact the budget is through the extra restaurant meals that we all tend to have this time of year. Whether you are grabbing a late meal after a shopping trip or meeting up with old friends, it is easy to overspend when you are dining out.

Being mindful of your restaurant budget is a great first step away from mindlessly charging every meal during the holidays. It can also be a big help to focus on hosting friends and family at home instead of meeting them at the local watering hole.

The holidays are going to be expensive no matter what you do, but by implementing a few simple tricks you can significantly reduce the potential impact those expenses will have on your long-term financial plan.

And if you can get through the holidays without racking up mountains of credit card debt, there is no limit to what you can accomplish in the New Year!