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According to a new survey released by Visa, Inc. on Monday, 16% of American shoppers have not yet started their Christmas shopping. That means that, as of Monday, almost a fifth of American shoppers still had not purchased a single gift. I get it; Christmas shopping can be tough. There are so many factors to consider – will my mom like the ornament I bought her? Would my girlfriend rather have jewelry or athletic equipment?

But, at some point, you have to just make a decision and commit to it. When shoppers wait until the last minute, they are more likely to “panic shop.” They’ll throw money at the problem and overspend on a gift that they could have bought more cheaply earlier.

If you’ve waited to the last minute, it’s okay. There are still lots of low cost gifts out there. Consider using many of the online coupon services to find gifts or making a charitable contribution on someone’s behalf. But remember that it’s best to spend no more than 1.5 percent of your annual income on all of your holiday purchases. That includes food, travel and gifts.

It’s not too late to put together a holiday budget and keep yourself out of the panic-shopping mode. Check out the Holiday Budgeting Center at Practical Money Skills.

by JohnH

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