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KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — Just about as soon as you hear “Jingle Bells,” many parents have that panicky feeling. Christmas is just around the corner and maybe their budget isn’t quite as nailed down as they had hoped.

“He gets everything, yes, he has us wrapped,” laughs new dad Chad Betters of his 7-month-old son.

Piedmont mom Ja’Net Adams has some pretty strong thoughts on buying for the holidays.

“Some people may think I’m over the top, but you have to remember where I came from. It was 2008, months before Christmas, I had just been laid off from my pharmaceutical job and we were $50,000 in debt. Yes, we made sacrifices, no one got a present, nobody, including my 1-year-old son. But then I realized nobody died, experiences are better than stuff you buy anyway,” said Adams.

Adams paid off her debt and is now a sought-after personal finance expert. She travels the country speaking to college campuses about her program called “Debt Sucks.”

Adams shops for Christmas now, but very strategically, scoping out thrifty deals on Instagram. Her favorite is “freebieshark.” She says parents have about five weeks left to shop for Christmas. She recommends coming up with an honest assessment of what you can afford for each child, divide that number by five, then save that amount each week.

“Don’t go into debt for Christmas, that’s just not good. Then you’ll be stressed and worried in January and you’ll just be playing catchup,” she said.