Many people spend far more than they should during the holidays and end up with a financial hangover.
The Cahill family is the perfect example.
Christmas is a very big deal. It's such a big deal that the family leaves their Christmas decorations up year round.
KT Cahill works hard to make sure the holidays are special for her three kids. But the resulting credit card bills and interest were far from wonderful.
That's why she no longer uses credit cards for holiday shoping. And, she rarely buys anything for full prices. Instead, she keeps her eyes open for sales months before or buys used items through apps like Offer Up.
Jim Vogt, who teaches college business courses, says that the most important thing is to make a plan and stick to it.
If you do use credit cards, have a plan for paying them off on time. If you only make minimum payments on a holiday debt of $1,054 for example, it will take 63 months to pay off the debt and it could cost around $500 in interest.
Other ways to shop smarter include using layaway programs at stores like Walmart of Sears.
You can also sign up for price alerts from Amazon.
Or, you can start a special savings account. Many banks and credit unions offer Christmas Club accounts. Money is put into the account every month and you can't touch it until the holiday season begins.