Christmas can be a wonderful time of year! For many people, the holiday brings religious affirmation, family memories, community involvement and gift giving. All of these things are wonderful, but unless you plan very carefully these wonderful things can put you deep in debt.

According to Wallet Hub's Credit card Debt Study, Americans racked up $21.9 billion in credit card debt in 2016's third quarter. That's a lot of Christmas!

So, how do you avoid going broke during the Holidays?  We found 5 helpful tips that will help everyone stay on track.

  1. Only Spend What You Have - that's right. Put away the credit cards. If you don't have the cash you can't buy the present. This might mean that everyone in your family gets a new pair of socks but imagine how great January and February will be knowing that you don't owe anyone money!
  2. Save Money - save a little bit of money each month throughout the year just for Christmas. This seems difficult at first, but if you treat it like a bill you will be surprised at how much money you can save and how fun it is to spend it in December.
  3. Make a Budget and Stick To It - making a budget is easy. Sticking to a budget can be almost impossible. The best way to stick to a budget is to hide your debt and credit cards from yourself. Stick to cash in categorized envelopes. When the cash is gone for little Jimmy, it's gone.
  4. Don't Add People To Your List - because we all love Christmas we want to share the joy with everyone. You don't have to buy a gift for every co-worker and every neighbor. Really! I repeat you don't have to buy a gift for everyone!
  5. Only Volunteer For What You Can Afford - this one gets me in trouble every year. If you can't afford to adopt a family for Christmas, adopt one or two kids. In you can't afford to bring snacks for the entire Sunday School, just bring snacks for one Sunday School classroom. And if there isn't money in your budget to donate, find a way to volunteer you time. Ring a bell for the Salvation Army, work in a soup kitchen, etc. There are always ways to help.