The gift-giving season is still a couple of months away, but Bankrate.com recommends that you get your finances ready now to avoid building...

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NEW YORK — The gift-giving season is still a couple of months away, but Bankrate.com recommends that you get your finances ready now to avoid building up too much debt.

First, prepare a budget. Estimate your expenses last year for gifts, cards, decorations, food and other holiday necessities.

Based on those estimates and your current finances, figure out what you intend to spend this year.

Then, make lists of your gift recipients and specific items to buy. It’s easy to get swept up in the spirit of the holidays. But by planning in advance, you’ll make it easier to spend wisely and focus on things you need.

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Next, create a plan for holiday saving. You don’t want to accumulate credit-card debt by charging all your holiday purchases.

Start cutting back now where you can — pack lunches instead of eating out, or skip your morning stop at the coffeeshop. Finally, select one credit card for your holiday purchases, and prepare by lowering its balance.