If you’re like many people in Vermont, you breathe a sigh of relief once the holidays are over. Until you get your credit card statement, that is. From buying gifts to traveling to entertaining, holiday expenses add up quickly — it’s easy to overspend without even realizing it. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some ideas to help keep your spending down and your spirits up. * Buy early This goes for almost everything — from gifts to airfare to hotel rooms. Buying gifts over the course of the year means you can take advantage of sales and avoid the last-minute frenzy. And, travel prices often rise as the holidays near. * Leave early (or late) Whether you’re taking a plane, train or automobile, consider traveling on off-peak dates. You’ll often save money doing so, and you may save yourself some hassle, too. * Spread the load Entertaining can be costly, so ask others for help. Instead of making all the food yourself, have a potluck. And, share the burden when it comes to gifts. Draw names for gift-giving, make a donation on behalf of the entire family or set limits for gift buying. * Take a different approach Do you send holiday cards and a letter each year? Consider emailing your letter, posting it on Facebook or sending postcards instead. Buying gifts online can save both time and money, too, especially if you take advantage of free shipping and gift-wrapping options. You could even do away with physical gifts altogether, because the best gift of all is spending time with family and friends. The holidays can be stressful enough, so don’t add to that stress by overextending yourself. With a little bit of planning, and maybe a little shift in thinking, you can have a happy — and budget-friendly — season. Happy holidays from all of us at Farm Country Insurance.