The holidays are a time for family, love and overspending. People maintaining tight budgets often face difficulty staying on track this time of year, especially when it comes to gift-giving and party planning. To help you stick to your budget, here are a few smart spending tips for the holiday season.

Make a comprehensive holiday budget

Along with your general budget, you should also have a budget in place when it comes to holiday spending. Sit down and think about all the people you want to buy for, then think about how much you can comfortably spend. Next, think about any parties you’re planning and calculate costs for food, decorations, and drinks. Finally, consider the money spent on cards and postage for out of town loved ones. This should give you a solid idea of how much money you’ll actually need to make it through the holidays financially unscathed.

Change how you pay

Overspending is easy when using a credit card. Along with the initial purchase prices for gifts, you’ll also pay interest when using a credit card to shop. Instead, use cash or a debit card when holiday shopping to prevent often costly interest from accruing. Paying with cash has the added benefit of making it easier to stick to your budget since you’ll only be able to spend as much money as you have each day.

Get started early

Waiting until the last minute to do holiday shopping is not only inconvenient, it can also be more expensive. Shopping early gives you the opportunity to look around for deals, which may greatly reduce expenses related to holiday gifts. It also ensures everyone on your list receives a present they’ll enjoy. You can also find deals online, provided you have enough time for goods to be shipped to loved ones.