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Every year it seems the holiday season is bigger and bolder, especially when it comes to shopping. While “Black Friday” was once a one day event right after Thanksgiving, this year the sales began before the pumpkin pie was even cut. And while all these deals may look like things that are too good to pass up, giving in to too much temptation during the holidays can easily lead a Miami family into financial trouble, and may eventually force them into bankruptcy.

While the temptations of the season may be difficult to avoid completely, with some creative thinking and steadfast holiday strategy, it is possible to dodge many of the money traps lurking around every corner. The first thing is to be aware of who you plan to shop for and how much you are willing to spend. It is important to stick to this– even if your credit card company decides to increase your limit, or if you are offered special deals on new credit cards. If you’ve budgeted to spend what you can afford, then you probably can’t afford more– no matter what would be credit you have.

Actually, many experts advise simply tucking that credit card away, or using it sparingly. Layaway is a good option for those who see a “must have” item but don’t have all the cash up front. Often, layaway programs have little or no fees over the holiday season.

It’s also important to remember that not all gifts have to be expensive. Just because that lady in the jewelry commercial loved her new diamond necklace doesn’t mean she wouldn’t also love an impromptu vacation day watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” in a fluffy robe. Or perhaps there is a charity that you both believe in where you can clock a few hours together. By monetary gifts with gifts of time and attention, you can stay within your budget, avoid bankruptcy, and still help everyone have a happy holiday.

Source: Associated Press, “5 tips to steer clear of debt in holiday spending,” Dave Carpenter, Nov. 14, 2012