The holidays are a time of year when the excitement of shopping is high, and the temptation to overspend can be even higher. Couple that with deals at every turn, and consumers can be tempted to loosen their purse strings and spend more than they have on holiday gifts.
"Prudence is a good thing. No one wakes up and says I wish I spent more money on my credit card, but the holidays are a special time," Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics for the Credit Union National Association, said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell" Monday.
Schenk believes that using credit cards are a safe way to approach holiday shopping as long as consumers quickly pay down the debt to avoid high interest.
Credit card purchases have historically increased in December, he pointed out, and most Americans are able to pay down that debt by springtime.
"Consumers overspend each holiday season. It's just what people do. What's not OK is to spend recklessly," Schenk said.
However, financial planner Chris Hogan suggests shoppers try to cut out using credit cards altogether. He said it's best for shoppers to be honest about how much they can spend, set a budget and pay cash.
"Don't use the holidays as an excuse to overspend," Hogan said. "You don't want to start the New Year behind financially."
Hogan's other tips including making a list of gift recipients and setting spending limits for each person. For those who can't afford to give gifts, his advice is to be honest and donate time or service to someone. Time spent together is what's remembered, not necessarily the gifts, he said.