Holiday shopping is in full swing in Wisconsin, and it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing advertisements for sales and promotions promising to save you big money. However, the only way to save money while holiday shopping is to have a plan in place.

As we discussed in a past post, holiday spending can quickly devastate a family’s finances if people aren’t careful. FindLaw.com has some great tips to consider for keeping your spending in check during the holiday shopping season:

Consider cutting down on gifts. Instead of buying everyone you care about a gift, considering writing out heartfelt cards, which often mean a lot more. You could also get together with friends, family or co-workers to draw names or play secret Santa to cut down on your gift buying.

Create a budget. After you decide who you want to buy gifts for and how much you can afford to spend on gifts this year, figure out how much you will spend on each person. Make sure to do this before buying any gifts so that you don’t get carried away.

Make your list and check it twice. As you shop, keep a list of what you buy and how much you actually spent. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to spend more than you originally intended so be sure to keep track.

Pay by cash or debit card when possible. If you only use money you already have you’ll be less likely to overspend. Many people rely on credit cards during the holidays, but it’s wise to avoid this if possible.

Hunt for the best deals. The Internet has made it much easier to comparison shop and find the best prices. If you are looking for specific item, shop online for the lowest price. It’s often possible to get free shipping as well.

Don’t wait until the last minute. If you start your shopping now you will be less likely to splurge at the last minute because of time constraints. Saving during the holidays is all about planning!