Surviving Black Friday: How to set a budget and stick to it

Carols trickling from retailers’ speakers signal the start of the holiday shopping season, and consumers are gearing up to give their wallets a workout.

The last months of the year can put an anxiety-inducing burden on personal finances. Consumers, on average, have charged about $5,400 to credit cards during the fourth quarter in the past four years, according to data from credit agency TransUnion. And U.S. shoppers are expected to spend about $805 each during the holidays this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

At least some shoppers are feeling good enough to spend more than last year. Deloitte’s holiday survey of more than 4,000 people found that 19% plan to spend more this year, the highest share who said so since the recession.

Staying on track when you’re bombarded with enticing deals for two months straight can be difficult, which is why savvy holiday shoppers need a game plan, financial advisers say. Here’s how to break down your spending, plus a rundown of the days with the best deals.

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