Holiday shopping countdown: 5 ways to stay on track

  • Andy Dean/iStockphoto

    By Trae Bodge/

    There are about two-and-a-half months left until Christmas. You may feel like you have all the time in the world to save and shop for the holidays, but those weeks can fly by in the blink of an eye.

    Americans spend over $800 on holiday gifts, according to the American Research Group -- and that money doesn't grow on trees. It has to come from somewhere -- and going into debt for holiday shopping isn't the wisest money move. It can damage your credit scores and leave you struggling to keep up with your normal, fixed expenses. (You can see how your credit card spending affects your credit scores for free on

    Here are some easy steps to ensure you have all the money you need (and the tools to shop smart) this upcoming holiday season.