Whenever the holiday season comes looming around the corner, people ready their pocket books across the country, ready to drop hundreds throughout November and December. In fact, it’s believed that the average American spends nearly $700 during those fall and winter months—on just gifts alone. Who can blame you though!? Black Friday, Christmas, Boxing Day. Though, couple that bit of knowledge with the fact that most Americans, to this day, are still living paycheck-to-paycheck, and you have a recipe for financial disaster

So, how do you get through the holidays without risking your financial wellness? Well, here are some tips and tricks on how to avoid plunging yourself into debt this gift-giving season.

Keep a Hawk’s Eye Out for Pre-season Deals

To this day, one of the best money-saving holiday shopping tips still rings true: Take advantage of pre-season deals and clearances. Whether it’s a car or coat, companies are keen on purging the last of their calendar year’s products before the New Year comes rolling around. Checking off your holiday shopping list a month or so early could end up saving you hundreds, perhaps thousands in the end. Use services like Groupon and other deal finders throughout the year to help find these deals.

Deal or no deal though, it’s important to only buy the things you would normally buy or need. Just because something is on sale for Black Friday, if it’s not something you actually need or will need in the near future, let it go.

Seasonally Embrace the Cash-only Lifestyle

One of the simplest, most straightforward strategies to avoid things like overdraft fees and mounting debt is to stick to cash-only lifestyle, especially during the gift-giving season. Consider, too, drafting a list of gifts you intend to give out this season, research how much each will cost, total-up, and then withdrew that lump sum in cash. This will force you to not overspend, no matter how tempting those in-line stocking stuffers might be. Opt to adopt the envelope system this time of year if you’re especially prone to overspending.

Get Crafty

This holiday season, consider skipping the mall lines altogether and instead bust-out the hot glue gun. Crafting gifts—which can be anything from homemade moccasins to a well-knit scarf—might not only help ease your seasonal stresses but also help keep your bank account padded. Have a new restaurant you want to try? Craft up a RSVP for your loved one and make your gift an experience for later.

Pro Tip: Moms and Grandmothers love photos. Print off some photos, frame them nicely and include a touching note.

There’s a million ways to do gifts on the cheap, while still providing something of quality and meaning. Take inspirations from conversations, social media postings, etc. to help you gauge what to make for your loved ones. Social media sites like Pinterest are absolutely perfect for getting high quality crafting ideas.  

Keep Your Spending Expectations Reasonable

Before you even start loading up your virtual and physical shopping carts, take a minute to check yourself. Do you have a 6-month emergency fund saved up? How’re your 401k, RIA, and other retirement accounts looking? Are you still on track to set aside 20 percent of your month’s income? If not, you might want to get a bit more realistic with your spending this year. Shop less, save more. No gift, no matter how big of a bow comes atop of it, is worth going into debt for.

Are you an Employer? Give Your Employees the Gift of Payroll Advances

What’s a post about saving money without a ZayZoon shout-out?

If you in the exalted position of having your own business, why not give your employees the gift of employee advances this holiday season?

ZayZoon, a Financial Technology (FinTech) company, was created to help employees get ahead of unexpected expenses—like last-minute holiday shopping needs. Through partnerships with payroll and employers, ZayZoon provides employees access to their already earned wages during that pay cycle, well before payday, so they can protect their financial wellness. On-Demand pay is something your employees deserve, and best of all, it follows all the above rules because it doesn’t cost a thing.

To see how ZayZoon (www.zayzoon.com) can help spread holiday cheer to your employees by giving them on-demand pay options, click here for more information.