Whether you’re planning for Christmas, Hanukkah, a big New Year’s Eve party, a trip to visit family or friends, or a winter vacation, the time is now to get your finances in order to avoid debt and regrets that can lead to the holiday blues.

The season of gift-giving and fellowship too often creates the spirit of giving far beyond what you can realistically afford. But if you start now you can be holiday guilt- and debt-free for the New Year. Here are three tips to help you stay on track.

1. Create Expectations and Family Buy-In. You may have a magic budget number in mind, but unless everyone is willing to stick to it, then the target is useless. The key is to communicate with family members and begin planning now to avoid last-minute weaknesses and over-buying. Minimal lifestyle changes such as skipping dessert in a restaurant, packing a lunch, or renting fewer movies can help save money that can be earmarked for the holidays. Kids can contribute to a coin jar and learn about the value of saving as well.

2. Make a List & Definitely Check it Twice. Record everyone on your gift-giving list and be sure to check it twice. Set recommended amounts and then keep track of spending along the way. Recognize that over-spending in one area means that you must reduce costs in another – a notion that’s easier said than done when you’re in the throes of the holiday spirit. Check your list for necessities and consider changing the amount of a gift if your budget is looking tight. Remember that it really is the thought that counts!

3. Say No to Last-Minute Temptations. Stores know the temptation of exquisite decor displays and fabulous clothing that lead to impulse purchases and, with it, a case of buyer’s guilt later. Be strong and don’t give in. A pass on that $100 lush velvet skirt today may ultimately lead to a much happier and financially-fit spring season next year. A general guide: if it’s not on your “approved” list, then the answer is no. Exceptions can occur, of course, on last-minute party invites or occasions, but keep close watch on overall costs.