It's easy to spend too much during the holidays, especially if consumers aren't planning ahead for the shopping season. If someone wakes up on December 15, though, and realizes they haven't yet begun to save or shop for presents, there are still viable strategies to ensure that overspending and stress don't take too much of a toll on a person's festive cheer.

First, assessing financial plans for the coming year should dictate how much money someone is willing to spend. If there are strategies in the works to purchase a home or car, go to college or take a special trip, more conservative spending habits will want to be observed.

If not, Visa recommended that consumers use a simple mathematical formula to determine what their overall limits should be. Taking a person's annual net or after-tax income and multiplying by 1.5 percent will show what that dollar value should be. For instance, a single individual earning $30,000 could spend up to $450 at the most, unless they want to be more frugal. Someone making $75,000 per year would be able to afford up to $1,125 in comparison. Sticking to these figures, individuals can then split that total value into a max per person, ensuring that overspending doesn't become a problem.

Reigning in expenses before they accrue
The Financial Post recommended to avoid credit card spending altogether, as these balances will simply crop up in January when bills roll out and they will also have interest attached to them. Failing to pay these balances off in a timely manner will result in an ongoing cycle of debt, in which interest continues to accrue on the total amount due without making much impact on the principal outstanding amount.

With more than three-fourths of consumers in some parts of the country responding to a Visa survey that they have yet to start their holiday spending, it could be problematic for those trying to make savvy shopping decisions. Fewer options on the shelves and an ever-shrinking window of opportunity to make purchases could force consumers into making unwise choices or becoming stressed over the entire process. The less time consumers have to make choices, the more unwise their financial plans become, swooping on any gifts they can find in order to satisfy the people on their lists, even if it leaves them in a difficult economic position.