CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – While it can be tempting to swipe now and pay later, overly relying on your credit card during the holidays will come back to haunt you later on. That’s why it’s important to stick to a spending plan for buying gifts.

Despite soaring interest rates, Americans are charging record amounts to their credit cards and even with inflation piling on the burden, shoppers are expected to spend at least as much as they did last year, an average of $1,455 per consumer.

22News spoke to Cambridge Credit Counselor Martin Lynch who said there are practical ways to protect both your bank account and your credit score, “The best place to start is with last year’s expenses. If you have any records of what you spent for the last holiday season, that’s a great place to begin.” Lynch says that’s the best way to create a realistic budget, one that should include additional expenses.

“About 40-percent of consumer spending is around food, travel and decorations. So don’t leave those out of your spending plan,” said Lynch.

It’s also recommended that you speak with family members to manage expectations and maybe set a price limit on those gift exchanges as well. One local shopper told 22News he’s been using these tips while on the gift-hunt.

“Keep myself on a limit for the day, a couple hundred a day, depending on what I’m doing, depending on who it’s for,” said Jon Sliwa of Chicopee.

If after the holiday season you realize you’ve overspent, you are encouraged to get in touch with a credit counselor to discuss a plan to manage your debt.