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The countdown to the holidays has begun. A major reason that Florida residents consider filing for bankruptcy is out of control credit card debt. Below are some ways to keep a tight rein on your holiday spending.

— Set a budget and stick to it. Calculate how much you will be spending on the holiday meal, decorations, gifts and libations ahead of time so you’re not tempted to wear out your plastic charging extras. Live holiday trees can be quite costly in south Florida; consider purchasing an artificial tree that can be used again.

— Bargain hunt. If you are traveling to visit relatives, book flights ahead of time on non-peak days. Flights on Dec. 25 are often surprisingly cheaper than in the days leading up to the holiday. If your budget is really tight, consider DIY gifts for friends and family. Homemade holiday goodies in a festive tin make thoughtful, inexpensive presents. Use reward cards, coupons and cash-back savings programs to get the most value.

— Go potluck. Cooking a huge holiday meal is expensive. Before you bust your budget, consider asking guests to each bring a specific dish to supplement the main course.

— Cut back now. To have more discretionary funds for holiday shopping, do some budget belt-tightening now. Skip the latte on the way to work and rather than buying magazines and newspapers, peruse them online. Watch free movies online on sites like Hulu with a batch of homemade popcorn and skip the theater crowds.

— Make lists, and stick to them. This will help keep you on track with spending. Rather than dashing out and overspending on last minute gifts, plan ahead to cover all bases.

— Recycle your treasures. If you always intended to pass on an heirloom ring, set of sterling silver or china to a favorite relative, do so now as an extra special holiday gift.

If you still find that holiday bills have left you even farther in debt, it may be time for some sobering financial decisions. Contact a Dade County bankruptcy law attorney to review your options.

Source: Huffington Post, “7 Tips to Keep You On-Budget This Holiday Season” Paula Pant, Nov. 14, 2014