The holiday gift-giving season puts a lot of pressure on moms and dads to make sure kids get everything they need — and then some. While you might have figured out what you’re going to buy, you still need to answer this important question: how will you pay for it?

A new survey by TransUnion shows that most shoppers will use a variety of payment methods to make purchases this holiday shopping season. When asked whether they’ll pay with cash or credit, most said, “Both.”

consumer advocate
Credit: TransUnion

And for shoppers with kids under the age of 18, a healthy 80 percent will spend with plastic, perhaps because holiday shopping presents a particular challenge for parents. The convenience of online shopping is attractive and many deals that used to be limited to brick and mortar stores on Black Friday have been introduced online much earlier.

When it comes to paying off holiday debt, the study also shows that after the holiday, men plan to pay off their credit card bills more quickly than women. 

TransUnion Vice President Heather Battison attributes this to the household finance gender gap. “Men may plan to pay off bills sooner, but in many households, women control family finances and may have a more realistic perspective on bill paying.”

So how can you avoid a holiday spending hangover?

Make a budget and check it twice: Make a budget — and stick to it. Don’t get overwhelmed in the store or online. Think about what is affordable and works for you before you go to the store or get online, where a great deal can lead to impulsive purchases.

Keep credit utilization low: Often overlooked, your credit utilization should be around 30 percent. Lenders see higher utilization as someone who may have difficulty paying bills, and that can negatively impact your credit score.

Stay off the naughty list by paying bills on time: Pay your bills on time and in full after the holidays to maintain a healthy credit score.

consumer advocate
Credit: TransUnion

Battison also recommends avoiding retail store credit cards. While they may offer short term gains, Battison points out these cards “tend to have high interest rates and can lead to a nasty credit hangover once the holidays are over.”

As always, be cautious where you’re spending your money. Identity theft is on the rise, and the holidays are a good time to check on your credit report to make sure all the accounts are yours.

Keep all these tips in mind, and you’ll be on the right foot for a financially fit 2017. Happy shopping!