By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The holiday shopping season is officially underway, and that can result in big, unwanted bills if you’re not careful.

When shopping, be smart says Alyzabeth Smith, a tax consultant with the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants,

She says you need to be organized:

“Make a shopping list and stick to it. There are just so many distractions out there vying for consumer attention, and it’s just a great way to blow your budget, so if you’re the kind of person that’s buy one for you and two for me type you might even want to stay away from the malls and buy gift cards.”

She also says this is a great time to use your devices:

“Comparison shopping is also important. You see something in the store, check it out on your smart phone, make sure that the sale price that you see at your retailer really represents a sale because what you see as a sale isn’t really a sale and you might be able to get a better price online.”

For next year, consider opening a special savings account just for holiday shopping. And pick up gifts anytime you see them, that could spread out the financial pain over 12 months.

You can also buy one gift for a couple or the entire family.