UNITED STATES—As much as I love the holidays, I’m kind of glad that we are near the end of 2017. Why? Well I’ve amounted a bit of debt and it’s time to start saving as 2018 ushers itself in. It is time to pay off those credit cards to alleviate any unnecessary stress that could impact one’s wellbeing and health. I did exceptional this year people, I mean I literally went nearly 9 months without using any of my credit cards. The first time I used one it was a minor purchase, but as November ushered in I found myself using them a little more than I expected.

Now if you’re asking if I put myself in a situation where I purchased more than I can afford, the answer to that is no, but at the same time I should have just had the will power to utilize cash that way that debt never saw the light of day. That is the thing about temptation, you can fight it all you want, but sometimes, just sometimes for reasons many of us can never understand, we can’t resist.

So there are a few ways to avoid such: 1) Don’t take your credit cards with you when you are out and about. Take cash or only bring one card so you are not tempted to purchase more than you expected 2) Be wary of debit. Yes I know we’ve all been warned of the great perks of having a debit card, but I’ve come to the realization that I spend more with my debit card because I always have access to money.

Before my debit card I was always going to the bank, since I now have one, I go less frequently and as a result I spend more so the debit can stay at home too. 3) Buy only what you need. This is the problem. So many of us buy things because they are on ‘sale’ and it turns out it’s an item we don’t even NEED. If you don’t need it don’t buy it.

Another important tidbit to bring to light is you can avoid temptation by not going to places that will tempt you. If you’re one that likes to shop, it may not be wise to visit the mall or those outlet stores, where if you see a good bargain, no matter how much you want to turn it down, your psyche tells you to get it! Don’t tempt, just simply stay away. Find something more constructive to do with your time. Like what you ask?

Clean the house, shred bills or old paperwork, do some yardwork, wash clothing, do homework, spend time with family, plan a budget that you are able to tackle with confidence. I mean heck, you could even read a book. There are tons of things to do to occupy that time so it doesn’t interfere with your desire to curb your debt and save more money. Christmas is upon us and if you do have last minute shopping I feel sorry for you. Why? Most of the stores will not have those last minute bargains or deals that so many people expect them to have. They know there will be last minute shoppers and money will be spent no matter what. So what does this mean? Buy only what you need and nothing more.

I’ve pretty much finished ALL of my shopping, but I was revising a list like I need to purchase more items for more people, and my gut reaction said, “Idiot, you’ve already bought enough. There isn’t much more you can buy that you haven’t already bought, so save your money.” Yeah, it’s true, and now it’s time to plan for the next 12 months. This is not all about just cutting back spending, you have to have a plan and it starts with paying as much as you can pay on those credit cards, not just the minimum due. The more you knock down now, the less you have to worry about later. The goal is to have a clean slate, aka no debt and plenty of money stored away in the bank for retirement.