It’s only November but you’ve probably already started preparing for the upcoming festive season. Whether it’s a holiday meal or gifts, the costs associated with this time of year are always higher than we expect. Even with a solid plan, it’s so easy to get swept up in the fun music, cute store displays and weekly sales. Before you know it, you’ve already blown through your budget!

What should you do? Well, you could always bury your head in the sand and just indulge in everything you want this year but, by January, you might really regret that decision. If you take action sooner than later, you can regain control over your spending and still plan for a great holiday season. Here’s how.

Assess the Damage (Honestly!)

Most of us tend to underestimate how much we’ve spent on something, especially around the holiday season. It’s important, therefore, that you give yourself a reality check by actually gathering your receipts and assessing the damage.

Once your spending has been tallied, go down the list and see how much is left on your to-do list. This will give you a clearer picture of what you need to do in order to get things back on track.

Make Returns, If Necessary

We’ve all succumbed to impulse buys but if your purchases have made it difficult to enjoy the rest of your holiday, you may need to swallow your pride and make some returns. You might deal with some temporary awkwardness or even embarrassment but the reality is that people return items all the time. You’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last.

This is also a good time to mention the importance of keeping all of your receipts safe in one place. If the store offers the option of having the receipt emailed to your inbox, it’s even better.

Go On a Cash Diet

Credit card spending can get really out of control this time of year and, unless you pay things off right away, this will leave you hurting for months to come. If you really need to buy something now but need more time to pay, find out if the store offers a layaway plan.

Another great alternative is to go on a cash diet. Withdraw the amount of money you’ve allotted for holiday spending and rely solely on that. When you rush out of cash, that’s it. You will be amazed by how far you can stretch your dollar when you know you can’t rely on a debit or credit card.

This is the season of giving but you don’t have to break the bank. Remember, there are more ways to show your love and gratitude than through monetary gifts. Think outside the box and get creative this year. More than ever, kind gestures can go a long way!