Did your credit cards really get a workout this holiday season? All that holiday debt can make the celebrations less merry and bright, as consumers struggle to pay down these debts far into the new year.

One survey showed that over 25 percent of American consumers get indebted over the holidays and need more than a month to get out of debt. Of that total, two-thirds require at least three months to fiscally recover.

The National Retail Federation estimates that, on average, United States consumers will spend $936 buying presents for friends and loved ones in 2016.

This is the almost the most spent on record, the NRF announced. While that’s good news for retailers, one financial literacy specialist indicated this annual pressure to overspend pushes consumers to take extreme measures like getting payday loans.

“About 75 percent of all payday loans are payoffs for old payday loans,” she said. “And a lot of folks who use these end up taking not just weeks, but years to pay them off.”

She recommends consumers stick to cash rather than credit when paying for holiday gifts to rein in tendencies to go over budget. Also, start early in January to map out a reasonable budget for next year’s holiday spending to avoid this same credit fiasco.

Resist the impulse to try to compete with others over purchases and spending. Learning to live within one’s means takes the anxiety out of holiday shopping, as there are no surprises when the bills come rolling in.

If this scenario sounds all-too-familiar, let 2017 be the year that you take charge of your finances and bring them to heel. A bankruptcy attorney can assist you with developing a workable budget that will allow you to retain some assets and pay off your creditors over a set period.

Source: KMA LAND, “Holiday “Debt Hangover” Can Linger for Months,” Veronica Carter, Dec. 18, 2016