The season of giving could lead to a year of financial distress, as a recent survey indicates that holiday generosity is making more Americans bro-ho-ho-ho-ke by the beginning of the new year.

According to, nearly 20 percent of holiday shoppers with a reported income of over $75,000 claim their holiday cheer significantly went beyond what their budget allowed last year.

Psychology experts say the phenomenon of overspending during the holidays is not uncommon, due to heightened emotional vulnerability. "There's a lot of guilt and social comparison in holiday shopping," says psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Experts say that holiday shoppers who do not wish to take the proverbial sleigh ride into certain bankruptcy should consider the following shopping strategies this season:

Seriously, make a freaking list. Come up with a maximum budget (for everything, including gifts, decorations, food, etc.). Then make an actual list of the people you plan to buy for.

Go over your list and amend it when necessary. Always be looking for ways to downsize the list. Rather than purchasing for everyone, you might want to suggest gift exchanges.

Give services when cash is tight (no, not like that). If you cannot afford to purchase a gift for someone, the next best thing is to offer to help him or her out in some way. Creating certificates for these types of things really lends to making these types of gift very memorable.

Get off to a good start. Do not venture out to do your holiday shopping with an empty stomach and a hangover. Get plenty of rest the night before and be sure to eat a decent breakfast.

Think long-term. Before you blow your entire holiday budget, try thinking about the long-term affects of your spending tirade. None of us wants to think that we will be forced to eat bologna and cans of Spam for the next six months just because we wanted to buy Uncle Jim a new set of golf clubs.

Have a two-trip mentality. Plan to make smaller purchases on one day and more expensive purchases on another.


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