FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Credit Counseling of Arkansas says overspending during the holidays is common.

The Director of Education for the nonprofit, Mark Foster, said the first thing you need to do if you are navigating holiday debt is to put up the plastic and stop charging items to your credit card.

Foster said it’s ideal to pay off items within the first month, so you’re not hit with interest charges. He said the quicker you can pay off those Christmas gifts, the less you’ll end up paying for them.

When some people are paying off debt, Foster said they might save money by “card surfing “or transferring it to a zero-interest account. He said it’s not a helpful move though if the balance transfer cost outweighs what you’ll save.

According to Foster, the best way to make a difference in your finances right now is to focus on your needs.

“Where people can really get upside down is if they switch that, and they put their wants ahead of their needs. So, focusing on what I need to have, what do we need to have stable finances for our family. Write those goals down,” said Foster.

Foster said creating an emergency fund or adding to your savings, should be one of your big goals for the new year. He said more than half of Americans don’t have savings of at least $1000, which he said will be necessary to tap into when emergencies happen.

To save more, he said to look at where you’re currently spending your money to see what habits you can change. He said often, people are spending a lot of money on eating out at restaurants or drive-thrus.

Foster also wants you to take full advantage of your 401k matches offered through your workplace.

Another goal should be to knock down any revolving debt. Although, he said it’s possible to focus too much on paying items off than on building your savings.

“If you pay $1,000 on a credit card this month with extra money that you got to knock it down, that’s great. But if you can’t really afford that and next month, they want you to make your payment, and you say, ‘I don’t have the money to pay for that.’ They don’t care that you paid the $1,000 last month. They want to know where your money is this month. So, it’s admirable to knock down that, but we have to be careful that we don’t overdo it,” said Foster

If you’re in need of financial help, the nonprofit offers free budget and credit counseling sessions.

Also, know you’re not alone, since Foster said Credit Counseling of Arkansas has seen an increase in people saying they’re really stretched or living paycheck to paycheck.