NEW YORK, NY (WLNS) – For Francesca DeVito, feeding her four kids is where inflation has hit the hardest.

“We do a lot more frozen veggies than fresh ones. Same with fruits, trying to stretch as much as I can,” said DeVito.

Stretching has also meant debt, even after downsizing into a mobile home in New Jersey.

“[Credit cards are] what gets you in between paychecks. And then unfortunately your paycheck goes to trying to pay it down. And then it comes down to ‘Am I gonna pay the credit card down? Am I gonna pay the light bill?'” she said.

Now, with holiday bills looming, DeVito and her husband are focusing on cutting back further to afford Christmas for their children.

But it hasn’t been easy.

Tiffany Aliche is a financial educator featured in the Netflix documentary Get Smart with Money.

Her first tip to save?

“You make a list, you check it twice, and see who’s gonna get a gift or not.”

A recent survey found that 26% of consumers plan on shortening their gift lists this year, with just close family making the cut.

As budgets are stretching, credit card debt has soared 15% in the last year, a pace not seen in more than two decades.

Aliche says instead, use debit cards or cash.

“Unless you’re someone who pays off their credit card debt every single month in full. If you are that person, then using a credit card that generates points, so it allows you to travel, it allows you to earn cash back or gas, then you’re okay,” she said.

And although buy now, pay later options are increasingly popular, Aliche recommends steering clear of them when it comes to gifts.

“The worst thing you can do with your finances is to be paying monthly on things that, ideally, you should be saving up for, and paying off in full when you get that thing,” Aliche said.

Another tip, consider group gifts or doing a Secret Santa, especially if you have a large family.
That way you don’t need to buy presents for every single person.