Pre-Holiday Guide: What To Mark On Your Financial Checklist

Before the holiday season kicks off, follow these steps to get your finances in order.

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Also factor in the cost of checked luggage, especially if you're planning to bring lots of gifts with you. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to ship gifts rather than pay for a checked bag. DiScala advises to ship gifts at least a week in advance and to choose the ground shipping option. Otherwise, it may be cheaper to pack gifts in your luggage (unwrapped, of course, in case TSA wants to check the contents).

6. Buy what you can on sale. Websites like and can alert you when an item you're planning to buy (say a gift) goes on sale. As items on your holiday gift list drop in price, buy them. "It's all about spending the money at the right time and thinking it through instead of waiting until the last minute and having to pay full retail price," Adams says.

7. Check your rewards points and miles. If you've accumulated airline miles or rewards points over the course of the year, consider using those to pay some of your holiday expenses for flights and presents. Some credit cards offer gift cards as rewards, which Adams says could be used as a gift or to buy items for a holiday party.

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If you pay off your credit card each month, then using a rewards credit card for holiday expenses may help you rack up even more rewards. But if you think you might overspend, use cash instead. "If your budget is $1,000, take out that $1,000," Gabrielsen says. "When the cash is done, the shopping is done."