I call it the buy-it-now bug: We come down with it every giving season and feel the effects in January when we see our credit card statements. If you're prone to overspending on gifts, follow these steps to help you resist.
Use Only Cash
Challenge yourself not to buy any gift with a credit card. When you're limited to cash or a debit card (with no overdraft coverage!), you're much more likely to purchase only what you can afford.
Whether it's baked, knit, or scrapbooked, any gift you make yourself not only feels meaningful to the recipient; it also keeps you away from temptation (i.e., the stores).
Check Your Giving Circle
Sometime in early 2013, when the stress of the next holiday is still months away and people are far more likely to hear you out, I urge you to add an item to your financial to-do list for the upcoming year: Initiate a frank discussion with your nearest and dearest about scaling back holiday giving. This is the perfect time to break the all-too-common cycle of spending more and more money (which, let's face it, many of us don't have) every year—and forgetting what the holidays are really about.