The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy for you and your family. If you approach the upcoming season with apprehension because of your credit card bills or mounting debt, you may need help reaching the other side of the holidays without adding to the money you already owe.

According to U.S. News, you can come out the other side of the holidays in a better financial situation than you were before.

Start budgeting ahead of time

When you start your holiday budget, you already have a good start. You do not always have to spend the same amount every year. If you have a different financial situation than before, you may want to cut back or become more creative with your holiday ideas. Focus on experiences rather than material items. Choose what to prioritize. For example, if you have children, prioritize their gifts rather than extended family. Consider Secret Santa get-togethers for your family.

Search for discounts

During the holidays, many stores have sales you cannot find at other times of the year. Be careful with sales, not to spend more than your budget allows for. Check out the internet for discounts you may not find in stores.

You may also want to think about drugstores for gifts. You can find fun gifts like fuzzy socks, leggings, stocking stuffers, heated scarves, makeup and other items for a lower price. Shopping in a drug store also takes less time than the shopping mall.

In addition to discounts, check to find out if any of your credit cards have rewards programs. Some credit cards provide discounts and rewards based on the store you shop at. If you use your credit cards regularly, you may have reward points stacked up to spend on gifts.